It was like any sunrise giving birth to yet another day, only the taste of fresh air bringing the hope of something new. The smell of the heather was lifted by the wind until it caressed the walls of a solitary old house. Within these tired bricks of memories and lost time she sat waiting by a paint-flaking old window. For forty years this had been her purpose, for forty years the same routine. First she would make some kind of attempt to bring order to her surroundings. She straightened the book which sat on an old ring-marked table beside her chair; it had been there for so long now that any hope of reading it had long since passed. Also on the table rested a china cup and saucer full of hot sweet tea, the only company and warmth she could now count on. In one hand she would take hold of her hair which was now abandoned by colour and with some grips in the other she would twist and fix until she formed a reluctant bun on top of her head.

She was once young and full of life and a baby grew inside her; a bastard of its time but a wanted one just the same. She thought she heard his first cry but in truth silence was the uneasy gift to her ears. They told her he had died. His life taken away as quickly as it had been given, the cord wrapping itself around his neck choking out his first and last breath. Was it God’s punishment for her sin? She never really believed God could be so unkind so she waited for her son’s return. Hours turned into days and months into years. Was this her true punishment if, in fact, one was deserved? Once in a while she would see a shape in the distance and her heart would lift for just one moment but in the end it would always fade from sight leaving her to drown in her loss once more.

On this day, however, something was not quite the same. The air from her mouth was cold, her skin pale, her hot tea nowhere to be seen and even the book was not in its usual place. As always she sat by the window looking and waiting, her hands and feet shuffling back and forth. From the corner of one eye she caught sight of a long black car. She did not see it arrive or recollect the sound of its engine breaking through her usual silence. Her mind was searching for answers to these questions when a noise behind her distracted her from her thoughts. She turned her head quickly, her eyes widened and her need for breath seemed to have abandoned her. Now she could see four men in black suits lifting a light wooden coffin with brass handles up onto their shoulders. This was followed by a baby’s cry. A cry she knew she had heard before. She lowered her eyes to see a newborn resting in her arms. Her waiting was over. Death had given her back what it had taken away!

« Back to Short Stories.