Old Flames

When Daniel  and I arrive at the edge of the Hürtgen Forest, on the threshold of Christmas Eve, the sleigh is waiting.  An antique  two-person Albany Cutter, painted poinsettia red, and hitched to a mare I know well-coal black from muzzle to hoof, stamping her impatience against the snow like a blot of spilled ink on white vellum.  Greetings, Rosie! I hail, anticipating the softness of her nose.

For longer than I care to remember, Daniel has driven me here.  A labor of love made possible by Daniel’s pre war Ford pickup.  Relic from another era now, nearly expired and in need of last rites.  Daniel exits the truck to help me into the sleigh. Leaves the motor running, not wishing to tempt fate.  Arranging the beaver robe across my legs, he hands me the reins.  I am touched by his chivalry-but saddened that he seems to be wearing away at the edges.  From somewhere inside the bulk of my left-over-right buttoned brown wool topcoat, I produce a man’s gold Elgin pocket watch, press the latch to spring it open, and mark the time.  Half past four.  The sun has burned down to embers, leaving cold, dusky ashes. 

See you in a couple hours

Daniel nods. Slaps Rosie gently on the rump, jumping her into a trot.  Within minutes I am lost from Daniel and his promise of upon your return hot chocolate.  A lone traveler.  Journeying among frosted pine sentries.

Silvered snow is falling, glittering the canvas of  landscape like a child decorating a glue-covered cardboard star.  A smattering at first, but then heavy-handed.  I can barely see my surroundings, and Rosie, shaggy and white, appears abruptly ancient. The sleigh angles upward, the terrain gradually steepening to an area of artillery-wrought tree burst, runners grinding over splintered wood.  I rein Rosie to a walk.

From within the swirl of snowflakes, you materialize beside me. Dressed for battle, the chin strap of your helmet hanging loose, insouciant as the wide grin on your face.  Foolishly, I remove my mitten, reach out to touch you-my hand meeting nothing but a frigid void.  Your voice is pastel, almost lost among the white noise of winter.  

I love you, Margaret.  Forever and ever and ever and ever and ever…

A flickering film projector image, you melt into moonlight.

Leaving ice on my cheeks.

And Daniel hanging on.







11 thoughts on “Old Flames

  1. WOW!!! This writing made me stop in my tracks. A lovely haunting ghost story.

    I love the anticipation you set up in the beginning with Daniel not going for the ride and appearing to be “wearing away at the edges,” which lets me know there’s something not right in the relationship, but what is it?

    Then you used your words to lull with the sleigh ride. I loved this line: “Silvered snow is falling, glittering the canvas of landscape like a child decorating a glue-covered cardboard star.”

    I missed the hint about the ending and so, was surprised by it. You did a wonderful job of tying up the beginning with the end. I understood about Daniel. Lost love can haunt any relationship. This was beautifully written, Valerie:~)

  2. Pingback: Write at the Merge Wrap Up, Week 5 | Write On Edge

  3. Really beautiful! I love the imagery when you are describing the snowfall. And the line about frosted pine sentries is so perfect. You always get me with the ending of your stories! Quite unexpected.

    Thank you for the sweet comment on my blog today. You are so kind! And I am so honored to know you as well 🙂

  4. Oh my dear Valerie you continue to amaze me with your writing. My emotions swirl with every paragraph and I never know how it will end hoping it does not. Hugs B

  5. Such a lovely heartbreaking story Valerie! I have missed reading your delightful words and the story you take me on. This, my friend, was divine!

  6. I clicked on the Write at the Merge link and circled back to your story. Oh, Valerie. Time after time, you write so true. Your style and storylines are uniquely yours – written with such attention to time and place and evocation of emotion. This is simply wonderful writing. Simply wonderful.

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