You’ve been told about my need for perfection in other posts, but I am trying to let go of that. So here with all its warts is my first offering. Your comments will be cheerfully accepted and appreciated.
A Silent Witness
The little house had stood nestled up against the oak forest for almost seventy-five years. Families grew, children became adults, married and moved away. The years passed and the house stood firm. It sheltered the families there through wind, rain, and snow. It felt proud of its years of service and imagined that it would remain standing at least another seventy-five.
It was a well-kept house. Over the years the many owners had painted it inside and out, put up wall paper, patched cracking plaster, reshingled the roof when it leaked, added proper plumbing and tore down the old outhouse. The windows shone, as did the floors, never a cobweb in the corners, or dust on the sills, it was neat as a pin inside. As well, the porches were swept, geraniums planted and then placed to advantage as a welcome to visitors. The ladies who had come and gone over the years made sure of that.
And so it was year in and year out.
The house was waiting in anticipation of the spring, for then the occupants would seemingly awake from their hibernation of winter, and thus would begin the bustle of deep cleaning. Opening the windows wide they let in fresh air to dispel the staleness. It loved to feel the breezes come in and refresh its rooms. From basement to attic the small house breathed in the perfume of spring. Soon would begin the planting and tending of the vegetable garden out back, and flowers set to grace the way to the front porch. The warm days of summer would follow, with sun and heat to dry out its timbers deep into the bones of its structure.
However, something happened to change everything.
The day had begun as usual, sun up, birds singing, people busy about their tasks to start the day. Idyllic. A gentle breeze that had been blowing all morning gradually picked up force and turned into a gale, but the house paid no notice. Winds had come and gone many times, and nothing came of it. To be sure, there had been some storms that took a roof tile or two, or a tree branch that came down and put out a window, but those were trifles and nothing the occupants couldn’t fix.
However, today was different, and the house could feel it in the anxious actions of its people. They were tense and listening with care to the televised weather advisories. As the sky darkened the family grew very quiet. The wind picked up in speed pushing the rain sideways, and hurling giant balls of ice down out of the sky it broke several window panes. It was then that the parents got the children together and went down into the basement. The house felt the seriousness of these events and wondered what to expect next. In all its years it had never experienced a storm so fierce.
The wind was screaming at her, and pulling on her siding. It seemed angry, tugging as if to bring her down. She resisted the effort. Faster the wind came, it swirled her perimeter, stabbing her in places with poles and lumber it had scavenged along the way, dislodging roof shingles, and still the she held against the fury. Gaining strength the storm blew out her windows, then poured its rain and wrath into her. Hearing her timbers groan it came in for the kill. Taking a mighty last bite, it ripped an entire wall from her side and cast it to the ground. Her timbers stood in defiance.
Gaining no satisfaction from its fury on the home the wind moved on to break trees and scour the earth. Only then, feeling spent, did it pull itself back up into the clouds and die away.
The family had huddled in fear through the violence of the storm and now listened to make sure it was safe before climbing the stairs. Opening the basement door they were shocked to find daylight streaming into places it should not be. Their home had saved them, and they were grateful, but in so doing it had forfeited its dream of another seventy-five years.
After the tornado, the family gathered what they could and left.
The silent house remains a witness to the furry of a storm.
NOTE: The house was spotted by me in Tennessee this past week. As soon as I saw it the story was begun. I went back yesterday to get the photograph.
Since then I have picked, poked, torn apart, rewritten,
and generally over thought this piece.
It is practice for heaven’s sake!
Letting go now…
26 thoughts on “A Silent Witness”
Great story and awesome photograph to accompany! Used to tornadoes here every year, I pretty much had a clue where the story was going!
Thank you, Lori! I guess I expected that if anyone knew tornadoes they would get it early on, but for me, the tornado experience is still pretty new, and fresh on my mind.
You write from an interesting perspective. I like it. Great find with that house, it sure told you a story! Good technique to pull a story from a picture. My kids had to write a story using Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World.
Janet, I often used art and photographs in my classroom to generate creative writing with my students. It is a good device. There have been a few in the writing prompts I follow, but not as many as I’d like. Most of the prompts have been of a personal nature. I’ve been wanting to write about something other than myself for a change, hence, the photo and the different perspective.
This is fantastic!!! I love old houses and your narrative captures my loving, nostalgic feelings. Gorgeous photo. Equally gorgeous writing.
Thank you, Anna! Perhaps I won’t be so hesitant to post next time. 🙂
I understand being hesitant. I write a little but never share because I am so afraid it won’t be good and then my feelings will be hurt. Your writing is like your baby… Your baby is very good 🙂
OK, so bundle her against the weather, put her in her pram, and take her on a stroll about the park! You might be surprised at the response you get. I know I was!
Seriously, Anna, I would love to read your work. 🙂
Maybe one day…. She is still in the womb. But when she is born, I’ll invite you to the baby shower.
I look forward to the happy event! Thank you!
Such wonderful writing – I really love it and love the idea of Sunday Shorts.
Really? I have been in awe of yours since I first read you. Thank you, Julie!
(Now I must go to bed and hope that my head will still fit on my pillow. 😉 )
Holy now Lynda, if that’s practice then I’m getting ready to buckle my seatbelt from here on out (oh, and don’t forget to put some ice on that head of yours; )
Deb, you and the others are sure putting a smile on my face this evening! Don’t look now, but I am already seeing a couple of flaws that need fixing… 😉
Thank you for your comments!
Lovely story. We’ve experienced a hurricane in an old house and it was scary. Luckily the dear old thing only gave up bits of the roof in various places. Love the idea of taking an image as inspiration.
Oddly enough, the thoughts about the old place were spontaneous as I sped down the highway, and the photograph was an afterthought to back it all up. Thanks, Annie!
Great piece of writing Lynda.
Perfect for the photo too.
Just long enough…..just descriptive enough……just perfect.
Wow, Victoria, thank you! 😀
I love the way this house inspired you to write the story – well done! 😉
It happens more than I allow myself the time to respond. This time I just had to write it all down. I am going to try and discipline myself to give in to the urge and thought process from here on. Thank you, Diane!
A great story. I enjoyed reading it. Also great title.
I’m glad you enjoyed it, I certainly had fun writing it, and thank you!
I like it! 🙂
Thank you, dou dou!
This is so nicely done. By the time I got to the end, I was grieving more for the house than for the people – which makes sense, because the house really is the main character of the story. Your ability to make me care about the house is the important thing – you can fiddle with technical things any time, but if you can’t get your readers to care, technical perfection won’t matter anyway.
Great story, well told!
And so we have passed as ships in the night. You were here writing to me, whilst I was there writing to you! This happened this morning with Cecilia on the Farmy, too! 😉
Linda, this means so much coming from you. Your writing is always so skillfully composed and well done. Thank you!