|photo prompt for Magpie Tales #47|
She was always amazed that Mildred would have a new piece sitting here, when she arrived each week to spend time, visiting, linguering in the stories of yesteryear. Mildred's tales had always been a fascinating time for her, even when she was young and lived just down the block. She spoke of a time, long ago, yet not so long ago, of a time with her husband and their coming here to this place. The journey always sounded so exciting. She wondered again, what meaning could this piece, the art, hold for today's conversation. Where could it have possibly come from?
She gently picked up the piece from the table, turning it over, reading the words inscribed in the same black on the wood showing through underneath... 'Life' then just below, 'Hank'. Bewildered, she set the piece back down in the center of the table, her thoughts racing trying to decipher what, how this piece could be called 'Life'.... Just then Mildred walked into the room, carefully placing the tea tray down next to the blackness. The silver shimerring against the black artwork, reflected it's image in the shiny finish of the art piece. 'Fascinating piece, isn't it?' Mildred asked as she sat down in the high back chair across from her.
'Yes, ma'am, it sure is. I've been sitting here exploring my mind, trying to decipher it. But I'm sure nothing that I've thought of will come close to the true meaning it holds,' she said picking up her tea cup from the tray. 'When Hank and I met, back in the day, he was a young, strong soldier, on his way off to war. We knew we were in love and wanted to spend our lives together, but there was no time to get married before he left. I was so scared of him going, of him not returning to me. We were out walking in the woods on the last afternoon before he was to ship out. There on the forest floor was this broken dead root, all twisted, like my insides. He picked it up and handed it to me, telling me it would remind me of his arms wrapped, holding me in the night when I was scared... scared of him not coming home.'
Mildred interrupted the tale to offer more tea, cookies, then set the plate back down on the silver tray.... 'I pined throughout that winter, those years, waiting. Never hearing a word, never knowing if he was returning or not.' She paused, sipping from the cup she held in her hand. 'When he finally returned, when the war was over, we were married. And as you already know, you remember I'm sure, we stayed together for the rest of his life, always taking afternoon walks to 'our special place' in the forest. Then one day, years later when we were readying things in the root cellar, there on one of the shelves, this piece rested. Hank reached up to it, stroking it gently, then handed it to me. He told me it represented our 'Life', the twisting, circling strands were the days of our lives, intertwining. He said when I went off to war, I had to go away from the starting place, but only to return 2 years, 3 days, 5 hours and 49 minutes later, returning on the circle of life, embracing our love once again. He told me the circle was our love, the blackness the war that separated our days in the beginning.'
She sat in awe, entranced in the tale Mildred told, as she always had since she was a little girl. She sat wondering why she had never noticed the piece anywhere in the house before. It was such a lovely story, bittersweet, yet hopeful, expressing the most extreme in this life, in their years together.... War, endings of life, yet circles of years bringing a shared life, a shared love, forever together again, forever sharing the twists and turns placed before them. The two women sat in silence for a long time before sipping from their cups again. Mildred broke the silence with these words, 'I always said he was ahead of himself, ahead of time as an artist, sculpting his wood scraps into the most amazing, meaningful things...the black is coal, he painted it with coal dust to represent the ashes of the war.'
I am linking this short tale over at Magpie Tales. Thank you Tess for another inspirational prompt. Your photos, your poetry is truly inspirational for me and my attempts at writing.