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The Lover

Destiny Jade Green

It was an ugly little house.

Nobody knew what had happened to the people who built it, and with each dying season fewer remembered their names. With its flat tar roof and tiny crooked windows, the house looked like an old feral cur brooding up against the heavy tree line. Watching. Waiting. Angry.

The young farmer laid claim on the land with the flick of a coin and a thick heel in the dirt. He ripped the trees away, singing while their roots screamed. He pierced the stubborn land with a plow as sharp and hard as his willful jaw.

His bride watched him from behind dingy glass while she blinded potatoes with a bone-handled knife. She thought about her old life in the city, and brokenly hummed the fiddle tune that played the night they met at the dance hall. The house sighed.

The stony ground finally yielded to him, and the rain clouds burst over him. The sun bronzed his face and blessed his offering. Fat sweet melons bloomed in his wake. When he moved through the moonlit fields, lush corn stalks swayed against him, whispering. Tomatoes, red and swollen as a kiss, twined their vines tenderly around his rough hands.

Yet each night he lay beside her like a dead man on a cold slab of stone, dreaming only of the dawn.

The day came when she couldn’t recall their fiddle tune. The note flattened in her throat and she swallowed hard.

She looked at the bone-handled knife lying by the stove. Then she looked at it in her hand for a long time. The air in the ugly little house grew thick and still, and she could see a chorus of nodding faces rising from the wood grain in the walls.

She hurled the knife, and it cleaved the soft mound of earth at his feet.

Before he could look up, she had turned away on a jaunty heel, humming in time with the suitcase knocking against her leg.

The door to the ugly little house swayed in the sudden quiet on laughing hinges.