Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Nanowrimo #12

The Man began his day with a cup of coffee and started a kettle of water for the Lady’s tea. He walked out into the yard in front of the shack to greet the sun as it woke the earth. He finished his coffee and walked over to the Lady, who was already in the garden preparing the day’s food, pecked her on the cheek, and walked down the road that he always walked down into the woods in search of the day’s meat. He passed the sled, which was already rusting from disuse, a gun, which he had damned months ago and tossed away, and a pile of various other belongings that neither he nor the Lady had any need for. The Man took only a rather large stick to bring back any carcasses, if it was necessary and plodded away down the trail.

Before he realized it, the afternoon was turning into evening and he had two squirrel carcasses and a half of a mouse tied to the stick, which he held with his right hand propped up on his shoulder, like a Norman Rockwell picturesque hobos. He reckoned that he must have eaten some of the mouse for lunch, but he couldn’t remember it. He also realized that he was almost home, and that made him quite relieved, and he looked forward to sitting in the little kitchen with the Lady, enjoying the night air and the sound of the crickets. As he bounded the last few yards towards the house he congratulated himself on such a productive day. As he set the stick on the porch, leaned up against the wall of the house, he noticed there, on the drying rack, another mouse, one that he had not himself caught. He set the food on the rack to dry and went into the house.

“The mouse on the rack. Where did it come from?” he asked, as he slid off his cumbersome shoes that were now clearly much too large for his feet.

With a look of delight and surprise, the Lady responded, “I killed it!” and chuckled at herself.

“You killed it yourself?” he asked.

“I was in the far garden, behind the house, clearing weeds from the turnips and I thought I saw something darting around. Before I knew it, I had it in my mouth—isn’t it the strangest thing? I thought about it all day and just a little while ago, I noticed it.”

“Hmm?”

“Look at us!” she said. She stretched out her arm. Her eyes were wide and she wore a faint, quizzical smile.

“Look at what?” he said, bewildered. And suddenly, so suddenly that he wondered how he ever could have failed to remember, he remembered. He remembered the row house downtown. He remembered the car that he had once loved so much. He remembered the dark navy suits that he wore to work in the office overlooking the bay. “Dear God, what happened?” but no words came out of his mouth; only pictures of things that he now recognized.

Darkness inside the shack blanketed the pair like a quilt. Crickets drone as loud as bombs falling, screeching at white moon filling the entire horizon now. Not bombs. The moon is falling, getting closer to the earth by the second, rushing forward to smash headfirst… He runs outside and looks up at the moon now. She follows, too, four feet hurrying silently behind, brushing against droplets of water fastened to the blades of grass and soft skin prickled by the cool night air. He looks up—it’s so bright now, it’s like a new, beautiful white sun—a new sun for new life. There are no words now. No pictures. There is nothing left to say.

The Lady sprints into the wood quick as a bullet. The Man only watches. Dear God, he thinks to himself, as he lies on the cold ground, watching her dart away from him, and tears won’t come.

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