If I am repaired, can we meet again for the first time, in all of the places I have feared to go, and then, again, in all of the places I will have forgotten, if I am repaired?



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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Mag 100



The TVA sounded their sirens at ten-thirty that morning, just as they had said they would. Lilith sat in the attic beside the east window on a milking stool she had brought up from the barn. As the low moan climbed to a steady wail, she searched the rim of the valley for signs of the men, the sirens, but saw nothing.

          Her late husband John’s pocket watch lay open on the sill there in front of her. Lilith read the engraving on the inside of its shell, ‘Our thanks, for thirty years of service, Norfolk and Western Railway’. It was ten thirty-three. The wailing begun to ebb. She had twenty-seven minutes to change her mind.

          Lilith closed the watch and slipped it into her dress pocket. She went downstairs and out on to the porch. ‘It’s a fine spring morning,’ John would have said. And it was, too, cool and crisp, not a cloud in the sky.

          Lilith followed the stones that John had set for her, to a fenced garden, where a dozen gray statues—angels and Saints mostly—stood among beds that had yet to bloom.

          Lilith had had John buried in the garden, beneath a willow they planted together when he first went to work for Norfolk and Western.  He had made a three stone bench, too, enormous and silly beside the little whip of tree. ‘I’ll drink sweet-tea and catch up on my reading under this tree some day,’ he had said.
         
          Lilith smiled. How little he knew. That was exactly what John had been doing when his heart had failed him two years ago.

          She sat down on the bench beside her husband and the tree.

          Had the statues always had their heads bowed like that?

          Lilith couldn’t remember. She took John’s watch from her pocket. Ten fifty-three. Seven minutes.

          Around the willow, Lilith had tied off the heavy rope John had used to pull logs and vehicles. She wrapped the loose end around her waist three times and made a square knot, just as John had shown her.

          Ten fifty-nine.

          The slow moan of the sirens settled into the valley again. The cry rose and held steady for a minute before it began to recede. Then the valley was silent.

          Two minutes passed. Three. Lilith began to wonder if something might have changed.

         Then she heard the first trees snap. The earth began to tremble beneath her feet. Far up, where the valley turned, there was the glint off sunlight off of water.

          It wasn't nearly what she had expected. That won’t even cover the house, she thought.

          She was considering returning to the attic when it came—just as they said it would—a wall of water that reached the valley’s rim, a steel-grey mountain, alive. In its churning maw, she saw houses, barns and livestock. The water seemed to be moving at a snail's pace, the way a mountain would, yet it was over twenty miles to where the valley turned, and already it had covered half that distance.

          Lilith closed John’s watch. Holding it tight in her hand, she slipped from the bench and lay beside her husband, among the Saints and Angels.



8 comments:

  1. oh my so sad and so beautifully written. Worth waiting for!

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  2. Damn, You are amazing.. you reach nerves.. quicken the heartbeat... build suspense... you connect... you are a Master.

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  3. mmm very well done...def evocative and well writ..glad i did not miss this one...

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  4. Well written. But isn't this last week's prompt?

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  5. Wow. I really love your voice. Agreeing with Brian!

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  6. You have a beautiful talent in story telling....:-)

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