I have created a new blog for any further short stories written by me. It is "Art Happens in Black & White". I want this blog to maintain it's focus on poetry and photography.
|Photo Courtesy of David Preissel of Deviant Art|
By Margaret Bednar
“So, this is to be demolished”. Even though the words were softly exhaled, they still flew around the empty tomblike interior of the old, abandoned apartment building. A shaft of light filtered in through the window above the stairs, and she waited for her seasoned eyes to adjust to the dimness within. Her knees ached with the long walk from the bus stop, but she had slowly and determinedly made her way to 918 Mitchell Street. Lowering herself onto the old oak steps, her hand caressed the well worn railing, and her mind swept back to July 18, 1936.
The day of their wedding. Tommy’s strong arms had swept her up these very stairs, pausing at the second floor window. His indrawn breath caused her to raise her eyes to meet his. “You could never be more beautiful than this moment, Mrs. Baker. The sun has kissed you and I am certain I am gazing upon an angel from heaven”. Ah yes, her dear, sweet Tommy, a poet at heart. A writer in fact. Full of wonder and excitement; possessed of an energy that touched everything around him.
Closing her eyes she could envision what it had once looked like. A smile pulled at the corners of her mouth. Never the Ritz, that’s for sure, but descending the three story staircase, the sparkling pendant chandelier had always thrilled her.
She opened her eyes and let them travel the foyer's perimeter. Not a trace remained of the floral wallpaper that had lined these now tired walls. Her Tommy had actually selected and put the decorative material up - one of the many jobs he took on the side in order to tide them over until his writing could support them. She had sat and watched him from where she rested now, pregnant with their first child. He had whistled and shared with her the ideas for the next chapter of his book, his favorite girl names (as a boy would be named Thomas, of course) and of his desire to buy her a little house in the country. White picket fence, a garden in the back, big magnolia trees shading the front yard. But until that time, he had said, this wallpaper was to be her garden, her oasis of beauty, so to speak. She had smiled, knowing her oasis of beauty was in front of her, balanced precariously upon the ladder.
She shifted, slowly rising to stand. Yes, this place had been home, a place her heart had soared and where she had been treated like a queen. She knew her arthritic legs wouldn’t take her up the twisted staircase, but her mind raced swiftly upward. Past the window and on up to the second floor landing, first door to the left. Apartment number five. Where little Barbara had been brought home from the hospital and rocked gently to sleep in her father’s arms, first steps joyfully exclaimed over, and hours of nursery rhymes read by the fire. A fairytale life. One that had suddenly come to an end on December 7, 1941. “Japan Wars on U.S. and Britain; Makes Sudden Attack on Hawaii”. A headline that forever changed their lives.
The last image she had of Tommy was of him looking back from the very window he had declared her an angel. She remembered the morning light hitting the back of his head, creating a sort of halo. The image caused her already worried heart to skip a beat. He smiled, put his fingers to his lips and said “I’ll be back soon, Princess”, and with a wink, he was gone.
They never found his body. MIA. Missing. Missing. Missing. It still echoed in her mind. Little Barbara and she had moved from this apartment after the war in 1945. Into a little house with a garden in the backyard, just like Tommy had imagined for them. The magnolia tree bloomed magnificently each spring. She, Mrs. Baker, kept busy with volunteer work. She didn’t need a job, as Tommy’s dream of becoming a successful published author had come true. It was now considered a classic, and over the years it sold almost as much as the 1960 novel “To Kill a Mockingbird”. She glanced at her watch. She must be on her way if she wasn’t to miss the afternoon bus.
Her eyes traveled up the stairs, up to the window one last time. “I love you. I’m still waiting and I feel I will be with you very soon”, she whispered. And as she walked to the door, she whistled. The sound reverberated and slowly floated up and out the window, towards her beloved Tommy.