She had been happy for a while, the breeze swept through the open windows; the fragrant smell of wildflowers enveloped the house, birds chirped, dogs barked and the sound of his voice drifted down the stairs. She was happy, it was a good life.
Walking down the path through the woods from the house was most adventurous she dared be in those days. Didn’t want to wander too far and end up lost, then again, Lydia didn’t really know what lost was back then, not the way she did now anyway. The woods always seemed to be full of mystery and wonder to her, even as a child. The house was across the woods from her grandparent’s home and when she was young would spy on it, mesmerized with it from the first time ever she saw it. Since the most wonderful thing she knew came from her first walk in the woods, it was Lydia’s belief that these woods must be full of some wonder, some old enchantment. He grew up in this house, and she always loved it, much like she always loved him, but before she even knew him, she loved the house. White clapboard with dark green shutters, with a veranda, that for a child seemed to stretch on for eternity. Sadly we all grow up and the verandas are not nearly as grand, but still what a place to sit and watch the world from. Big fans hung from its ceiling (still do actually) and in the summer you could sit and rock one of the big chairs and time and space and everything would stop, except those fans, you could lose yourself in the thump and whir, thump and whir, thump and whir of the fans. Ferns in deep shades of green hung between each post above the banister, unruly stems reaching out like a leaf covered sea creature. Sleep came easy there, first and last kisses, tears and laughter.
She stepped gingerly down the dirt path, she had gone off too far and too long this time and now the light was ebbing away behind the trees. For all their glittering enchantment in the light of day, there was a shift in the feel of the woods come night fall. Since he’d gone on, there was an extra darkness that fell like a blanket over the trees, it was thick and she wanted more than anything to fling it off, like she would do in the summer and it was too hot to sleep under anything but a thin sheet. Quincy stayed beside her, leaving four footprints to her two; his long black and tan coat had collected some burs along the way. She would have to pick them out later; there was not time to stop. The trees loomed overhead, old majestic oaks and thick evergreens reached into the quickly approaching night sky almost seeming to curve near their tops to form a canopy over the path. Lydia imagined that they would block out the stars, they were so thick with foliage. Quincy, sensing her unease picked up the pace and glanced back her, pleading her to catch up. She followed his lead and quickened her steps; the overgrown canopy at dusk was the last place she wanted to be. Her breathing slowed, the path was widening a bit and in the distance she could see the house.
Even now, after all that had happened, even after the great loss, it still took her breath away. Together she and Quincy closed the distance between themselves and the house. A cracked cobblestone walkway felt cool under her bare feet, a welcome reprieve from the dirt grit of the woodland path. The cobblestone was old, but lovely. Weather had changed the colors over the years, and now there were delightful hues of brick red, earthy oranges and browns, improved each year by the harsh winters. At the end of the walkway, Lydia stared upward, Quincy let out a low growl; she heard the familiar thump and whir….the fans were on. How could it be, she thought, no one has lived here since……She let her mind drift away from the past and stepped up on to the veranda. Quincy reluctantly followed her.
Together they padded across the wooden planks of the veranda, smooth from many feet crossing over them, around the west corner of the house to the side door, even when the house was lived in, the great mahogany doors in the front of the house were never used as an entrance, the reason for their permanent closure lost in the distant past. She tried the door, it was not locked. Quincy growled one final protest as she flung it open and they stepped inside.
Dawn began to break over the trees, and a deer trotted down a horribly overgrown path, limbs from dead oak trees littered the path’s edges. Nimbly she jumped over a downed fir and stepped into an opening, the open space was overcome by gnarled shrubs and unruly vines, just beyond it was a house, charred and broken but it’s original colors could be seen, white with green clapboard shutters. The deer stepped gingerly munching on new growth of an old rose bush, coming up next to what must have been a walkway once but now was a faded pile of red and clay dust. She stopped, listened. Her head cocked to one side, she was frozen in time staring, and then as deer often do, she bounded hurriedly in the direction she had come. As she reached the path, behind her she could hear a faint thump and whir.