I forgot about my notebook filled with stories! I’m going to write it here. Originally, there was no title, just the date: 6/27. I’ll think of something when I’m done. Enjoy!
He was never able to swallow his pride for the sake of someone else’s happiness. There was always something going wrong, so whenever the good times were rolling, he let nothing get in the way. He grew up playing baseball, was naturally superstitious. Blinking the wrong way was enough to offset everything. It only made sense that when everything turned he shut down. He was in so deep he knew there would be nothing left if he made it out. It just wouldn’t be worth fighting for.
The sun slowly rose from behind the mountains. He was already out in the field. “The grass won’t cut itself,” said his wife while making breakfast. Luckily, there are no neighbors around to wake up. Growing up in the suburbs made him overly self-conscious of the little things no one else would ever notice, until one noticed, and realized how annoying they are.
It was the end of summer, and the wildflowers needed to be cut for the following season. He had been putting it off for a while now. Not because he didn’t want to–he found pleasure in the work–but because the frost didn’t come yet. “That’s true, but the grass is falling all over itself. It looks terrible,” she nagged. Fine. He knew she was putting everything into the place. Why ruin it? And if she does it, like she says she would, it will come out worse.
While going up and down the stone pathways, he hit a loose piece that went straight through the kitchen window.
“Another project,” he grumbled.
HIs wife stormed out of the house. He pretended not to notice.
“I’ll fix it. Let me finish first.”
Instinct kicked in. He took it as a sign. He decided to finish later, but he wasn’t ready to get started on the window yet. Let everything calm down first, approach it with a clear mind.
A few weeks later, and the window finally fixed, they watched the first snow fall peacefully. It reminded John to go out for firewood. They only have a wood-burning stove. “Wood puts less pollutants into the ozone than gas or oil,” says Shelby. The goal was to make their carbon footprint nonexistent, the reason he went out with an axe and not a chainsaw.
After the second tree, he thought it would be enough for the rest off the week. Shelby insisted on one more. It would get cold and stay cold fro that point on, and he knew that deep down. Only issue was that there are no dead trees nearby. He would have to walk a couple hundred feet–through the snow–chop the tree, break it down, haul it piece by piece, split it, pile it, and tend the fire. But he went anyways and was greeted by a slippery elm, always a challenge, even with a chainsaw. The fibers don’t just break; they twist and bend making it difficult to get the tree to fall where you want it.
This elm was situated next to the pond. John was surprised to see it frozen already. It was nice, though. The ice wasn’t clear and thin. They stocked it with largemouth bass last year. He saw one swim slowly through the last of the weeds. Thorns grew around the elm making it difficult to cut cleanly.
“John!” yelled Shelby, startling him on the final swing. The tree was already wobbling with each swing. He missed his mark by less than an inch, but it was all it took for it to fall directly into the pond.
“What happened? How are we going to use that?”
“We’re not,” he yells back, thinking about the fish he saw earlier.
Already spring, and John’s struggle finally started to pay off. Shelby’s garden was off to a great start, too, prompting her to buy a book on pickling vegetables. The tree was still in the pond, and looked terrible, but John thought it would be good for the fish to hide. He planned to cast his line as close to the tree as he could to get the big one.
“I want to go back to the city, John,” said Shelby.
“We just settled in!” he yelled.
“You know me,” she said.
“Nothing makes you happy,” he snapped
“Why do you want to settle? I thought you said you wanted change–needed it.”
“We’re not going anywhere,” ending the conversation.
Summer was over faster than they expected. Goldfinches danced in the meadow looking for sunflower seeds. The last of the flowers reached desperately for the warm light from the sun going down behind their house. From the kitchen window, Shelby waved to John. She wants him to try the pickled carrots. There were so many they didn’t know what to do with them. “Gifts for my friends back home, if they’re good,” she said. For dinner, they try a recipe John found in an old cookbook. It made Shelby happy knowing they finally had something they could enjoy together.
The next day, Shelby woke up not feeling good. She made a cup of tea with the mint growing in the front yard. John called their neighbor, a doctor, to come by and check her out against her will. “Botulism,” he says. They rush her to the hospital.
She never got better. John always blamed himself. They had a chance to leave everything behind and go back to the city.
“It’s not your fault,” says John’s father.
“There were signs, and I ignored them.”
“The place is beautiful. It would be a shame to give it up.”
He didn’t have a choice. It was always theirs. It could never be his. It was too sad to look at. Everything he looked at disgusted him. Nothing was beautiful. He kept the house but let it go to shit. The neighbors used to come by and mow the lawn and weed the garden, hoping it would spark something in him. He appreciated it deep down, but didn’t know how to express it. They thought he didn’t appreciate their efforts so they stopped after a couple of months. The last thing to go was the garden. He needed to eat, but he hated getting up. Eventually, he didn’t see the point in eating.
His only wish was for his ashes to be spread in the garden, with hers.