I did a freewrite late last night when I could not sleep. My words were rather serendipitous, and I was feeling entirely melancholy it came out all sad. Since I don’t want to take out the sadness I always feel this time of year on my son or my husband, I’ll post it up here and release it. I have too many other things to be happy about.
My writing exercise was this:Open a dictionary four times to a random page. Write down the word that is on the top right-hand corner of teh facing page. These words must all be used in some way to create a micro short-story or a vignette where names and exact locations cannot be used. They can be repeated as many times as needed.
Meadow, Season, Locust, Trust
Every Fall, when she draws close to the three-sided meadow where he is buried, a fleeting glimpse backwards towards the entrance makes her think the tall Locust trees through the back of the field are angry. Brittle, twisting branches snake out from the weathered, grey bark. Gnarled fingers reach for the sky. Stark silhouettes into air, old and creviced. Never changing, always there, holding time, a landmark keeping in trust memories she would rather leave buried.
They aren’t angry. Their lifelike forms transfer from tree to symbol of her upheaval. it happens when she walks past them on her way. She becomes angry at the way her grief has become seasonal, feeling too convenient, too predictable. She wonders why she must torture herself each season, like this, remembering.
In the Fall, she remembers his bright chesnut coat and funny faces when the leaves are orange and blowing with the breeze, and the dried cattails rattle near the old watering hole. When crystalline shapes of ice form along the edge of the water gathered in wheel ruts, and the Tamarack trees are afire with yellow needles, shedding them silently in a brilliant fire-flurry. When she walks past the Locusts, the image of his glinting, mischievious eyes are replaced by the slow lumber of the front-end loader, its precious cargo swaying slightly, steel shoes now glinting in the peekaboo sunlight of mid-morning.
The creak of the trees reaches her even in the meadow, and again she hears them as she heard them that long night, in her lawn chair, trusting the battery from her car wouldn’t fail, lights trained to keep intruders away. All night, she had listened to them moan and grind, their limbs twisting in the cold and the wind, sometimes loud enough to overshadow the sounds of her grief.
When she is where he is buried in the meadow, she sits for a long time on the cold ground. Not trusting herself to speak, she simply listens for the hoofbeats she has memorized in her mind, the swish of galloping legs through tall grass, her hands tangled in tawny, flyaway mane. She doesn’t move, and simply feels for the tickle of his whiskers on the back of her neck.
She closes her eyes, waiting for him to materialize in front of her, to take the sadness away and erase the anger. If she opens them, the tears will spill and she won’t be able to stop them. So she reaches mentally, eyes closed, waiting, and listening to the creak of the Locust trees, synonymous now with her memories of him.
Every season, she plants a Locust where he is buried, in the meadow. Someday they will grow into a grove just like the one that holds her memory catalyst, and maybe, someday, they will replace the craggy, old, and splintered regrets with young, supple, and happy remembrances.