A walk of a thousand miles, or five-and-a-half. It’s all the same when a person is weary and depleted. Every step is another step back when your mind is behind you.
I turned onto the small lane leading to our house. My house now, with no one to greet me, no one to lead me inside where it is cooler. Everything is imprinted by the past. Everything is faded, like sun-washed curtains.
A small and simple wooden frame, seared by generations of wind and dust, peeled down to the marrow. Scraps of weeds poke from the dirt. And the geography, reduced to a raw scour. This was home. Not the image I kept in my head, but a faded place built by long-dead hands. I now see it as a newcomer to the land, a stranger approaching with a less than heroic bent. It is all built upon the fading skin of time.
Jeremiah was sitting on the porch, hoisting his jug. His throat was working more than his hands ever did. Fresh splats of tobacco around his chair, an imperfect semi-circle. He knew how much I disliked his habit, and he usually spat into an old mayonnaise jar he kept for the job.
Of course he wasn’t there.
The door was open. Did I close it when we left? I couldn’t remember. And did it matter?
My feet were blistered and my mouth was dry. I wanted to sit, just sit, not think, not move. My heart felt bruised.
I stumbled towards the kitchen sink. The shotgun helped my balance.
I placed it on the kitchen table. Already, there was a thin layer of dust there, but it didn’t matter.
I drank slowly, but greedily. And waited for something else. I didn’t know what, but that didn’t matter, either.
I listened to the dust as it fell.