Nurturing Nights on Nightingale Lane This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     The stars shone brightly over the snowy hill while the residents on the straight, which stretched over a mile, closed their eyes to take sleep. Every home had smoke puffing from the chimneys that smelled of smoked beef; the houses were dim with a little night light casting illusions on the window pane. Every home looked as though you could take refuge from the cold and spend weeks there with hosts joyous to have your company.

The moon’s face cast its twinkling eyes in all directions and blew the breeze that caressed the pavement of Nightingale Lane. The sky was as clear as a new champagne glass bought for an elegant wedding. The guests would be able to see every popping bubble that would tickle their noses through such a glass and toast the happy couple with wishes for their prosperity and future.

Out in that night, though, wandered an old soul, a frail man. With every breath there was a puff of white fog, and he rubbed his mittens together trying to create heat. He walked for a mile down the lane knowing he needed shelter soon or he’d be as frozen as the ground. All the homes were so inviting and it warmed his heart just to look at them. Which should he choose, the yellow cottage with a picket fence swallowing the yard? The cabin with the charming ruby-red curtains in each window, or the brick house with a porch wrapping around the front and sides?

The man turned up the cobblestone walk to the cabin, his pick of the homes along the lane. It was so late; he grimaced at the thought of pulling anyone from their warm sheets but he needed someone, anyone. He pulled a wrinkled hand out of its mitten and placed it on the frozen button. The chimes of the doorbell played a melody that even a deliveryman would appreciate. The old man saw lights flick on in a room upstairs, heard the creak of feet on stairs and soon saw a middle-aged women come to the door with her husband lagging behind tying his robe.

The two were appalled by the man’s condition; his nose was so red you could pick out every vein, his purple lips that looked as though he’d sucked a popsicle. They pulled the stranger into their home.

They all retired to a cozy den where a fire blazed. The visitor sat next to the flames and was covered with layers of blankets and quilts. He was fed with no questions asked, although many were thought; the smell of hot cocoa wafted through the air along with that of seasoned chicken and mashed potatoes from the couple’s dinner. The gravy trickled down his cheek, and the cocoa made his lips tingle with warmth. Even the curtains that the man had marveled at, the rich red curtains, gave him warmth. After he ate they retired.

The man was led to a paneled room; each pine knothole held a personality with blacks and browns. The old man lay in bed layered with sheets and stitched quilts, no doubt homemade. The politeness, the hospitality, the love the man had witnessed made him feel as though all were truly right with the world and that in life he’d done what he was born to do. Nightingale Lane was the heart and warmth of the wintry night, it was nurturing and calming under the stars.

The next morning the couple, full of wonder about their guest, approached the room where he lay. They creaked open the door and walked to his bedside, and it was then that they realized the frail soul had passed on during the night.

Nightingale Lane that night was one star short in the midnight sky, yet the star still shone over the snowy hill while the residents on the straight, which stretched over a mile, closed their eyes to take sleep.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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asdfasdf said...
May 25, 2010 at 10:34 am
i saw this story on studyisland!
 
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