Upon this morning, the house felt as if the heater decided never to kick on all night. The morning clouds filtered the previously glowing rays; pulling out the oranges, reds, and yellows and replacing them with greys, whites, and a soft blue. To his right, the bed laid empty, bare of another’s existence. Rolling over, John felt the empty section and the missing warmth of a body residing within. Pulling the shades back over his eyes, he fell into sleep with hopes of waking to a better morning.
The breeze outside pushed the witch-like-thin-finger branches against the window pane; smacks and screeches reverberated around the room. Waking to the fright, he grabbed the sheets in a twisted bunch within his fists. Still the place laid cold. Peering around the room, the walls and ceiling were painted in a thick grey mash. Willing each leg over the bedside, the floor felt as a cold slab beneath each foot. Stretching his back high to conduct his legs forward, each bone and muscle crunched and cracked into proper place.
“Ah, I see you made it down here and let me get some much needed rest, huh?” John asked to his wife who was sitting in her chair at the small square two seater kitchen table. Perfectly square, its appearance was dominated by a dull yellow that was speckled throughout with white glittering flakes. Though cheap by design, and aged over time, it was their first purchase as homeowners.
Their home was basic. Awarded more than needed for a home loan, John opted that they purchase a home they could live in comfortably rather than overly spacious. This fit their needs.
Reaching the plug-in percolator, he felt the cool metal siding; not even a trace of warmth. Picking up the pot, he swung it around in circles; hearing only a small amount of coffee containing within. Giggling he said, “I don’t believe that this is even microwave worthy…” Looking over, she sat. Staring out the window, both hands grasping around her small white mug, white steam vapors wafted to the air and disappeared.
Deciding that he would make his own, John got out the coffee tin from the revolving lazy-susan and begun the process. The previous contents still rested within the holder; damp but verging on soon becoming dry. With the familiar sounds of the water popping, he stepped back and enjoyed the musical notes and smells of brewing coffee.
The world outside the window provided an empty stage of entertainment. Each blade of grass bathed in grey; each tree waved gently in the wind’s breeze. Though present above the clouds, the sun too was having a morning of grey. Between her hands, her cup rested and she enjoyed her plain viewing show.
Taking in the aging fragrances of their drying roses that lined the walls of their home, John said, “You know, I can still smell the sweetness of these beautiful flowers. It was so very generous for all of those people to drop off so many flowers for us.” As he took in the many flowers around their kitchen and adjacent dining room he continued, “There were so many gifted to us that I had to place them in any spot I could find a vase to sit without tipping over,” he chuckled. With a childlike amusement for being creative he pointed outside, “I even planted a few stems in the ground, hoping they would grow – since I ran out of vases!”
Hands still clasped around the only thing giving warmth in the room besides his conversations, she stared longingly out the wide single pane window. The steam of her coffee continued to dance. Approaching the back of her chair, John rested each hand upon worn smooth wooden knobs that capped the outstretching limbs of the chair. Though they contrasted with the plastic and metal yellow table, the wooden chairs were an encouragement gift from John’s mother. Frustrated to the point, she decided to buy the couple two ornate chairs after seeing them stand at their yellow table while eating food. For his mother, the chairs held a hope that the couple would replace their ugly yellow table with white glittering flakes; to be replaced with one made of wood and for an adult couple.
Still, they never bought a new table that better matched those beautiful chairs.
“I think today,” John said, looking outside as well, “I will start our garden that we have always wanted. Though I am a bit nervous, not being the best with tools; but, I really want those garden boxes stood up so I don’t have to bend so far to reach our harvest. This should save us a lot of money, but only over time.”
The percolator completed its job, so he left her remaining in her silence. Pouring himself his own warm cup of coffee, he shot back the first cup without letting the coffee maker down for a moment. The hot contents filled his stomach and burst through to each limb. Pouring himself another cup, he rested his cup across the table from hers and took his seat.
Looking with her, the day outside was the same. Being grey painted, everything look in between. Not cold enough to give snow but not warm enough to bloom flowers of spring upon the trees. No birds flew and no critters skittered across the expansive lawns.
“Days like today,” he calmly said, “are a bit of a mess for me to understand, you know? While I could simply just step out the backdoor to inspect the weather, I just don’t feel like going out there at all.” Eyes blank, they stared out the window.
As the coffee reawoke his sleeping mind, John rose and strode over to the mantle above the fireplace. Picking up the photoframe that rested upon its glass surface, he saw a man in a handsome suit and the slender body of a woman’s glittering beauty within a white dress. The event was beautiful. They saved up and paid all expenses themselves. They were overjoyed by just having a day that celebrated their hard won accomplishments. A day that bound them together as one person. From that day forward, John saw her as his only true universal personal; all things did revolve around her.
Remembering back to last time she was sick, he cared for her day to night and into the next day with food, drinks, bedding, and constant love. Brushing her hair, bathing her skin, and changing the sheets daily. The truest love was the love you gave through action not through purchases, his heart believed.
When they first started dating, he would remark on how her presence had become a pillar supporting his existence; how, without her he was but a shell of himself, a lost boy in a sea of people. Never feeling alone, he loved her with all his heart. Within the picture, her wide smile and gorgeous eyes radiated an abundant beauty that produced naturally from within.
Resting the frame back upon its legs, he placed one of the dried roses at its base, gave the photo a loving kiss, and turned. Swallowing within his wrung dry throat, he rubbed his sternum to help lead the movement down. Each eye felt tired, worn… covered in dust.
There she was, still holding her warm cup of coffee. Staring out among their beginning to green landscape; the trees swayed in the breeze with the birth of budding flowers. Soon, their buds would produce a gift of beautiful aromas to the world outside. Above, the clouds were soon loosening their blanket hold upon the sun. Freeing from its bondage, the sun bathed the grass below in a shower of golden fire; each blade rose to standing in joyous rapture.
Lowering himself down, he kissed the cool air that shaped the top of her head. The coffee had no smell; providing a warmth only to her hands. To her ear he whispered, “I will always love and remember you; your soul is mine; where you go I will soon travel. No place I will be without you and you without me. In this existence and in others, I am with you and you with me. I love you my sweet love. Forever… we are bound as one.”
The mudroom was empty except for his boots that were dry and waiting for his arrival. They stood tall, side by side. Pulling at the top lips, each rubber boot was placed upon a foot. The rubber noise they made as they returned to the linoleum flooring echoed throughout the home.
Against his palm, the handle of the oval shaped door handle turned with a squeak and then a click as it unlatched from the door frame. Opening to the outside, the room filled with the illumination of an orange burning glow.
Remembering how to place his foot at each step, he made his way down the two step staircase to the soft unmanaged grass. Each blade reached as high as his ankles. The light was both warm to his skin and assaulting to his eyes. Squeenting, John raised his right hand to provide shade to his unadjusted sight. Around him, life occurred. Dancing from place to place, nothing stopped for his time in hibernation.
When he felt his distance was far enough, he turned to see their two story white house. Beneath a grey shadow, the structure appeared displaced as it hovered over the green hued grass that encircled it. Just beyond the wide window he saw their table. Her chair empty, the coffee mug missing.
Gentle to his back, the hands of the wind pushed him further towards the open hills beyond. With each foot step moving forward, his heart floated free like a hot air balloon. But… a piece would always be anchored back there; left within the house he onced shared. Her presence, in this life and in the next, would be with him forever. Their love was one; sharing one body, one heart.