A wind sings in the barn. A goat, old and worn, nibbles the grass out front with a few chickens browsing for bugs. She walks through the big doors in front and up to the hayloft with its dust and piles of straw in the corners. She pulls out her lover’s picture and stares at the face there, unreal and distant. This is where they first made love. This is the last place he’d come to find her. She just needs to be alone for a while before dinner and all the talk of work and chores. Their children are grown now and they’re retired, looking for anything to fill the hours.
The dust here fills her sinuses and chokes her lungs. She won’t stay long. They’re delivering the corn to the food bank after they eat. It’s something they do now. It gives them a chance to stop and talk to people they don’t know.
After that, they’ll come home and watch the television for an hour before going to bed. She’ll rub his shoulders, but it’ll go nowhere. Not since the prostate surgery. That part of their lives is over.
She puts the picture away and climbs down the ladder to the barnyard. She latches the gate behind her. Her lover is waiting in the kitchen with a roast chicken and pasta. They eat well, but it doesn’t mean anything. She’s lost her taste for food. She’s lost her taste for anything that keeps the hours going. She won’t do anything rash, but if a car crashed through the kitchen wall, she wouldn’t step out of the way. At least then, it wouldn’t be her fault.
William L. Alton was born November 5, 1969 and started writing in the Eighties while incarcerated in a psychiatric prison. Since then his work has appeared in Main Channel Voices, World Audience and Breadcrumb Scabs among others. In 2010, he was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He has published one book titled Heroes of Silence. He earned his both BA and MFA in Creative Writing from Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon, where he continues to live.