What had taken me so long! Now as I drove along the narrow tarred road which disappeared into the distance, I couldn’t believe it. The acceleration and angst to get there transferred to my right leg, and tall lengths of yellow African grasses beside the road whooshed by.
Too often I had contemplated meeting again and how it would be, so now whichever way the conversation went would be good; a step in the right direction. Time is a funny thing, an enemy too, but I had used it as a barrier, I am sure, to block out the one person who needed to see me as much as I did him.
The entrance to the farm road came upon me suddenly and I threw the car to the left onto the sandy dirt verge, raising a huge cloud of dust as I braked. There were butterflies in my stomach now, reminding me of how I felt when the bus dropped me in this exact spot as a little girl, with an unopened report card in my school bag. I would have walked the quarter mile from here that day, very slowly…
Taking the car out of gear, I turned the key and silence filled the air. There was no going back was there; but, should I walk from here and surprise him, that way an opening ‘line’ might come to me. Or should I drive and get the waiting over with. The old wooden posts either side of the entrance were leaning badly, and a frown distorted my forehead; it wasn’t like him to leave that unattended. In all the years we were together, he was a perfectionist and a hard worker.
“Let’s do this thing!”
I swung the car to the left and headed down between the yellow sweeping grass either side. In the distance I could see the Mopane trees beside the road, their foliage, amber, yellow and red in the afternoon sunlight.
The shade beneath them was deep and cool as the afternoons were shorting each day. Winter approached. Then I gasped as I realized how long the journey had taken and that I hadn’t eaten since breakfast. The determination had been so fierce. My throat felt dry and I drank the last of my plastic water bottle.
Around the bend in the road was a whitewashed wall, which was the boundary to the farmlands and paddock which had always seemed so high; it was now no longer white and quite insignificant. Then a low rock edging to the garden lawn came up on the left, and there she was, the old home with the big oak tree in front. Corrugated roof, wide veranda down two sides of a square house. My car slowed at the sight automatically; the dry uncut lawn and thick dust on the veranda, with one lonely wicker chair as company.
It felt strange to be back, but very odd that the place looked so run down. For a while after turning off the engine , I sat and took in the whole picture. What was I expecting; that, five years later, nothing would have changed?
But, no dogs, however they were getting on; Dancer and Lady? Sad.
The wind rustled the leaves above and I reached for my sweater as I closed the car door.
I climbed four steps to the veranda and my footsteps left marks in the dust; it felt eerie and too quiet. The usual smell of coffee on the old stove would have been good – and a relief too. The breeze picked up and I felt a chill down my back as there was a loud noise like a door closing.
The door in front of me on the side veranda was shut tight , so I walked around to the front, not knowing who to expect, but there was no one, only more dust… It banged again, ahhh…it was the top half of the stable door which was the front entrance to the family farm house. The wind blew harder and the door swung open just as the shadows darkened because the sun dipped behind a cloud, preparing to set. I was rooted to the spot…
Written as part of Kellie’s FWF entry on words from the ‘Fall Word Bank’…….