In the summer sun grim faced residents drove slowly past. They looked bitter, lonely and deflated, with nothing left but to die. Maybe happy, maybe sad, always indifferent they would leer at the young man and his weekly shadow. He couldn’t help but feel unwanted every afternoon, under their uncomfortable stares. Gazes made through windshields often are.
All he wanted was to feel a sense of something, of anything. A young family man now without a family suddenly surrounded by people who gave up on that a lifetime ago. Walking through the town became a daily ritual and burning calves quickly developed into an addiction. It was on the crest of the hill he met her, she was as old as the mound he stood on. Unlike the hill she held herself straight and true.
“Hello, what do you do with yourself besides climb this hill?” Strange question he thought, she looked like she already knew.
“I’m a writer, part time, without any stories to tell as it were.” he said, cautious but warm.
“Mmm”, she pondered. “I have a story for you, follow me.”
There was no hesitation in his step as she lead him down the path. A house made of black glass and polished wood. His thoughts drifted up into the high ceilings and floated in comfort.
“Here”, she said gracefully wielding a hefty tome filled with photographs. There was no dust as it landed on the oak and the memories were lost in time. Earlier memories were beautiful shades of black and white and the smiling faces looked carefree. Younger memories were more playful and spattered with colours and showed a very happy woman.
“You’ve really been busy with yourself”, he mumbled.
She responded softly, “That’s one of fourteen albums”, and her smile could be heard.
Memory after memory littered the pages covered in protective plastic.
“Is that…?” there was no way…
“Yeah, yeah it is.”
“Why haven’t you told anyone about this?” He was genuinely confused.
“I told my story with my husband every day for forty-five years. When he died on me I lost my taste for story telling.” Her skin seemed thin suddenly and the glow had disappeared from the aged face.
“I’m sorry to bring this all back for you. I didn’t mean to upset you.” Guilt had commandeered his brain.
“Oh, that’s what memories are. Good, bad or indifferent, they’re full of emotion. Why don’t you take my story? My hands hurt and I never learned to type like all the other girls.” pale blue gems pleadingly stared back at him.
“I could never take this off you.”
“You wouldn’t be taking anything away from me. I lived that life, it’s mine, and it’s mine to give away. Please, just tell it well.”