Posted on February 25, 2014 by Patricia Ann McNair2.25.2014 Journal Prompt Photo by James Francis Facara, source: npr.org February 25, 2014: There wasn’t much left. Share this:ShareClick to email a link to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Like this:Like Loading... Related
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Used to be there was a point to things. To getting out of bed each new day and to going to work and coming home again. Used to be that it meant something and even when times were hard, there was still a reason to keep going. Now there wasn’t.
Don recalls that time before and not so long ago; and looking back he does not know where it all went so wrong. She was pretty as a flower and he told her so. She liked that, Emmy did. Liked that he had so few words and the best of them was flower and she was that flower. And they started out laughing and the sun shone on everything and nothing could make what they had smaller than it was. And soon enough, he got to rely on her and she on him; and they knew each other, better than they knew themselves it seemed. A touch, so small it could be missed, or a look across a wide space, and it was enough. Maybe it’s always the way. Maybe it’s just what it is when love is new.
Then they got a house and jobs, and they put down roots. Isn’t that what people say? Like they were planting something, a tree perhaps; and it was something strong and sure, as a tree is. And kids running through the house before too long and a dog called Max and the jobs got a little harder and they had to keep an eye on the bills so that everything added up, but they got by.
Years that ambled once, now ran, and the kids grew up and moved out and he did not know where all those years went, and the only sure thing was Emmy, and she still looked just the same to him, maybe a little thicker in the waist and a little grey creeping into her hair. And she could still do it – just a look across the yard or the touch of her hand on his shoulder and it meant something or it meant everything.
Then the company he worked for said they had to let him go. Like he was a captive they were setting free, and they gave him a watch so he could keep an eye on all the time he would now have. And Emmy had to take extra shifts at the supermarket to make ends meet. And all he had to do was take Max for a slow walk twice a day.
She said his snoring was keeping her awake nights, and she did look tired, so he took to sleeping in one of the other rooms, and a dog licking his hand as he slept. And her words were snappish and toothed, and she brushed his hands way when he reached for her, and when she looked at him it was as if he had done something wrong.
And one day he buried the dog in the back yard, dug a hole as deep as he was tall and it took him the best part of a morning, deep enough no other wild dog would come sniffing around. And he phoned the kids, who weren’t kids any more, and he told them about Max and they did not seem to understand what he had told them.
Emmy moved in with her sister in town. She said it was to be nearer to her work, what with all the extra shifts she had; but Don wasn’t sure it was that. She’d been taking more time over her hair these past weeks and new dresses she’d bought and she looked different. There was a man at work and she said he was daft and the way that she said it gave Don to understand that she didn’t really mind him being daft, the way that she once had liked it when Don’d called her flower.
He drove to where it was so quiet some days, quiet so that he could hear the clouds moving across the sky or grass growing. And he sat with his head in his hands and like that he didn’t know what there was to keep him going. And like that he didn’t know what it had all been for. And the days seemed longer again, as they had when he was a boy, and his breath came slow and heavy, and he waited for something.