June 15, 2009

January 25, 2009
By Michaela Maxwell, Santa Monica, CA

June 15, 2009:

It was midnight. The trees outside were swaying in the wind. The moon was full and it formed a large circle of eerie white light around its core. A wolf howled in the distance, invisible in the mist. Amongst the oaks, and not far from the wolves, a cottage stood. Its decaying wood and broken windows made it seem like the perfect spot for a crime to have taken place, a long time ago. And yet, there was something peaceful about this place, as if all of its strangeness was merely a first impression, as if it was to be looked passed, never entered, like the dull, cover of the best book you’ll ever read.
Inside the cottage, no different. The dark brown wallpaper was peeling, the chairs, ripped up. There was a putrid smell in the kitchen, unidentifiable, and was a small journal on the counter, covered in dust.
Among the mess stood an old woman. She picked up the journal, wiped the cover with her hand, and opened it up to a random page. Her life, relived in its pages, she began to read:

January 7th, 1925,
“Dear Diary,
Mother will not let me go outside today. She says it’s raining, and I could catch a cold! She said: “Mary Elizabeth McKinney, you’re a lady, you can’t just go playing in the mud at your age! “What nonsense! I’ll show her! I’m about to sneak out the window, and roll in the dirty mud! That should teach my mother a lesson she won’t soon forget! I’m 9 years old; I know what’s best for me!
16 o’clock
Mother is very mad. I have to wash all the dishes for a month, but at least I’m not sick!

January 9th:
Dear Diary,
I am sick. I shall not be writing for a while now.”

Mary closed the book, and a single tear ran down her wrinkled face. How foolish she had been as a child, never listening to anyone.
She did not have a clue as to why she came back to this cottage, if it was not for the fact that she was dying. She did not have many days left, she knew that, and so she wanted to spend those last few days, weeks, or however long she had left, in this cottage, reliving the pleasures and horrors of her long, lonely life.
Although she knew the pain it would cause her, she had to revive from the depths of her mind the memories she had tried so hard to forget, in order to find all the people she had loved so dearly once more before facing the great unknown of what was to become of who she was.

She read another passage of her old diary.

“ I saw Sasha’s new kittens today. She is a wonderful mother. A litter of 6 and she takes care of each one with such love. I hope to be such a good mother to my child, or children some day…I do so want to look into the eyes of a delicate little face. To be able to whisper “ I love you” to a baby, and have them smile their father’s smile, even though they do not understand a word you’ve said, must truly be an accomplishment.”

She stopped there for the night, and went to sleep on the king sized bed in the only bedroom of the house.
In her sleep, she dreamt of all the little whispers she’d never uttered, and all the little faces she’d never held. She thought long about all the children she had never had, and hoped that there was something beyond the human shell that she would soon be leaving. She hoped that somehow after this was over, she could be young again, and hold her cubs against her breast, and love them forever.

She was wakened by the first ray of sunlight through the window, and not being able to get back to sleep, she got up and unconsciously went to the kitchen, where she found nothing but old pans covered in webs and dust.
Dissatisfied by the sight of the place where she’d cooked many a meal, she took out a broom and began to sweep away all the dust.
The cleaning took half the day, and at noon she realized that just the kitchen wouldn’t do, she’d have to clean the whole house before she could continue the reading of her memories.

Then, she reopened the journal, and finished it. By the end, she was weeping. The last pages had been about her beloved Robert. They had met in England, where they had both been raised. They spent each day speaking about their love, in this cottage which they had lived in together. One day, Robert got a letter saying that he must go to war. He would die soon after, in 1940. He had been 27, she 24.

“You stupid man! Why did you have to be so loyal to your country! Couldn’t you’ve run off with me, somewhere where we’d be safe!” her voice was shaking. “Why did you have to leave me, and go and get yourself killed? Look at me, I’m 92 years old, and I’m going to die any day now, and I don’t have any children, or anyone that will remember me.” She looked out the window, to the sky, and she saw a star. He voice changed tones, and she sounded young, and sweet. “I forgive you though….I’ll be with you soon, you know? And then we’ll be together forever again, just like you promised…..you promised…” And she fell asleep on what was left of one of the two beds, his bed.
“Mary….join me….” She heard.

Now, the cottage was new, the flowers outside blooming, and the sun blazing hot. Birds flew high in the sky, up and around a large rainbow, whose colors were shocking. It was a crystal clear day, not a cloud in the sky. The scent of honeysuckles drifted through the air. It could not get more peaceful than this.
Two adults were frolicking in the slight breeze, the man chasing the girl: a game of tag. He caught her and bound her in his arms. His hand gently caressed hers.
On the other side of the universe, an older woman smiled in her bed, a never ending smile.

The author's comments:
I wrote this piece with the thought of making a novel out of the story. In my novel, Mary shall have many more memories than the ones in this short story. She will go through her life, almost from beginning to end, in her sleep and in her journal.
I hope that the readers will get nothing but enjoyment out of this piece. It is not meant to be just a sad story, it is also meant to be a happy one. It's the story of a woman whose life is ending, and her longing to be with her Robert at the end of that long, and not always happy life. In a sense, it's the good side of death, and the relief of hardships past.

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This article has 1 comment.

on Feb. 25 2009 at 8:06 pm
cool, i hope you do make it into a full novel

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