Slice of Life March Challenge. No. 27.
This is my mother-in-law’s story.
Over the course of several years, she suffered a series of strokes and finally one left her without the power of speech. While we were home for a visit, Carl and I took her for a drive along a familiar Oklahoma-Texas panhandle highway. Riding in the seat behind her, my heart felt her agony and I scratched out some notes on the back of an envelope. From them, I wrote Without Words.
The day seems young, wrapped in the morning light. Here and there wildflowers recklessly splash vibrant color. At the edge of town, grain elevators stand tall, unbending in the winds, ageless. The highway is still two lanes–one running west and one, east. Cattle graze in the fields. Dust billows behind a pickup racing along a county road. All is as it has been for decades. Nothing has changed.
But I have grown old.
My body is shriveled.
My steps are slow.
My hands unsteady.
And I can no longer speak.
As the sun warmly caresses my sunken cheek, I close my eyes. The hum of tires on asphalt lulls me, sleep beckons, and memories transport me to a former day.
The wind teases my jet black hair and swirls my cotton dress around my knees. My skin is smooth, taunt, tan. As I latch the barn door, I notice the strength in my hand. Voices of children–my children–float past me like distant music. They are so young, so full of life. I pause, lean against the corral, and breathe deeply of the early summer not yet parched by the blistering sun.
My life stretches ahead of me,
miles upon miles yet to live.
The rhythm of tires upon pavement has stopped. A chill steals over my body, and slowly I open my eyes. The sun is gone, leaving only a soft glow like dying embers in a winter fireplace.
I look down. In my lap, my hands are spotted, wrinkled, without strength. I look up. There are no miles ahead. Behind me, far behind me, mile after mile, stretches my life–a tale passionately lived. Stories in the shadows wait patiently to be told.
But I . . .
I am without words
at the end of this road.
© Alice Nine
Grain Elevators, Darrouzett, TX
Writing about my writing
During last year’s March 2016 Slice of Life Story Challenge I wrote a slice one day (The Day My Teacher DIed) and then shared extensively about my writing the next day (The Marmalade Cat). [links will open in new windows] I had hoped to do this again during #SOL17. This morning, I decided to do so, posting Without Words. So tomorrow, I will share its back story and my thinking as I worked through several revisions.
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for hosting
2017 Slice of Life Story Challenge