The writing contest produced some very good entries. It was hard to choose only three. I ended up choosing four, and still I had to add a fifth – Joanna Gawn – for an honourable mention. This does not mean hers was the fifth best. It’s just that I had to make the cut somewhere.
I liked Joanna’s story very much. Here it is. Congratulations Joanna.
The buildings seem smaller than when I left thirteen years ago. Yet the land runs forever. I’d forgotten. The city does that to you, narrows your vision, restricts your focus to the height of things, not the breadth.
Hannah Mallory and I played on that ridge every time Dad and I visited. Hannah and I were innocents back then, drinking fresh lemonade in the shade of the trees while the sun baked the earth a pale gold.
I think of my town car back in the city, tucked into its pristine garage. The Mallorys had an old Buick; Dad kept it running so Hannah’s mother could get to town for groceries.
What would Hannah say if she saw my grand house? The gilt-edged invitations on the mantelpiece? My wife, with her perfect hair and immaculate make-up? The kids with their private school uniforms? Their expensive toys?
My life is perfect, I’m told. Sophisticated. Sparkling.
This wide landscape, with its broken buildings and its handshake of dust, welcomes me back quietly, without fanfare. It cracks open my heart, the memories seeping in slowly like the trickle of water in the hidden creek. A different kind of sparkle, of droplets capturing glints of sunlight.
Air can be so pure; I’d forgotten that, too.
There is peace here, yet I’m heavy with regret. Will she hear my goodbye?
The trees murmur Hush now, this is the way of things. Breath always ends in death.
I make my way to the house, still unsure what to say. Hannah, my first love, I’m sorry I left you? Hannah, my only love, please don’t die? Hannah, my heart’s hope, I wish you were mine?
I hurry. I have to be there with her before she, too, is dust upon the landscape of our childhood.
Find out more about Joanna Gawn here: