Short Stories

Three Ways to Bring Him Home

Written for those days where your home seems too small, but the world too vast, and all you can hope for is the comfort of familiar arms. But the hours pass too slowly, and the shadows press like knives against the heart…

…a tree had grown overnight, it’s leaves the color of bruised lips and ink stains, and below it’s boughs he waited. Sable skinned and singing soft songs with a voice like October.

More than anything, she wants him to come home.

Every day she finds herself wandering the house at dusk, slow to turn on the lights, moving from window to window to wait and watch and feed the dwindling fires of hope.

It has been a long time.

The dawn of three days passed found a young girl at her doorstep, selling flowers that smelled of meadow sun and warming days. She bought them all and burned them, casting one after the next into the hungering fire, and each one counted as a day already gone passed, vibrant life and joy curling and crumbling to ash before her eyes, sweat beading on her brow and heat scorching her skin as she watched them be devoured. Foxglove, nightshade, morning glory, lily-of-the-valley, now cinder and ember flying up the flume to escape into the returning night.

She pressed her too warm skin to the cool glass of the windows and watched, hoping the ghost of those days had flown with the fire, and would find him.

A priest came to her door the day before last, in the bright light of midday, his long robes dusted brown from the track and his cross hung from a long string of worn beads. She listened to his scripture and in the rumble of his voice heard the faint echo of a man she once knew. So she lead him to her bed and took solace there, summoning cries from his lips as her hips moved in sacred rhythms. When he left he took the light with him and she did not follow, for there was waiting to be done.

Back to the windows, one to the next, watching the sun shades gather on the edges of the land. She knew his returning would be with the shadows, as it always had been.

Yesterday, before sundown, she heard a single loud strike upon the oak and iron door, and when she opened it she found a hawk, broken and sightless eyed, upon the step. She lifted it in her hands and found it weighed almost nothing. It’s feathers tumbled away in a gathering wind till all she held was a single red stone that throbbed and stuttered like a weakening heart. She buried it in the earth as the last sun’s rays disappeared behind clouds, and she settled in her dark home to watch the rain.

Dusk passed swiftly, as she looked through glass into the swallowing night, and wondered what she would do, should he fail to emerge from the shadow once again.

The next day dawned slow, with strange shade cast over her bedroom’s windows. From the hawks heart a tree had grown overnight, it’s leaves the color of bruised lips and ink stains, and below it’s boughs he waited. Sable skinned and singing soft songs with a voice like October.

“Three days have I come here. And three ways have you taken me.”

“It is the way of returning. A balance must be struck.”

He smiles and rises to his feet, his hands are soft and clean as a priests, and he smells of flowers. She can feel the pulse of his heart through his hand as she takes it, feels it’s thunder through his chest as she wraps herself into his arms.

“Are we then equal?”

She smiles in return, and leads him not into the house, but away, passed the dark lines of land to a waiting sky, and light that reaches forever.


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