Thursday, February 3, 2011

Isolation--New Fragment

Photo: A Kansas Barn.  Fits this fragment well.

[This is a rough draft, done today.  This is geared towards one of the plague works; don't know where.  I'm going for an isolated, beginning-to-panic, doomed feel here.  Let me know if you think I've reached it.  This writer/character has been quarantined, either in the house, or the whole town, or both.  I have a heavy 1800s to early 1900s feeling for it.]

I watch the abandoned house down the way.  Sky-blue paint has faded and peeled off in small sheets, most of which still hang from the wood on the side facing me.  It has cracked and fallen in many spots, like a ruptured, leprous face, damaged by the elements.  Knotty branches stand as blunt testimony behind it; the grey, unmoving clouds have formed a blanket of shrouded misery, a backdrop of forever, stark against the solid brown-that-seems-black of the naked trees and desolate homes.  I find myself fascinated with the house closest to me, on the other side of the lane.  The angle of the pointed roof, very straight, very even.  Very exact.  Crusty snow, perfect whiteness, not the mushy clotted black of the road snow, pushed aside for the carriages.  The snow on the house isn’t clumpy; just one sheen coat, the rest blown off by the relentless wind.  This wind blows wisps of snow across the top; it floats away like smoke, first towards me and the window, then to the right, across the perfectly straight layers, then away from me, floating away into darkness and distance.  Odd how the snow wisps away in the wind, but the trees beyond the house do not sway.  Nor does the small tree in between this house, and mine.  It’s as if the breeze is only at house level, not in the air itself.  It effects what is closest to me and ignores the largest things, the older, more permanent things.

I can feel and hear the wind forcing its way into the cracks I cannot see in my window casing.  I can’t tell if it’s really happening, or in my distant, cold mind.  I think I can hear it, but that can’t be.  I believe I can feel it against my face, glancing off my cheeks.  A quick iciness, then it’s warmed away.  But my mind, my imagination, doesn’t thaw.  The cold sits on my bones and hunkers down.  I shiver and move a few steps away from the window.  I can’t take my eyes off the house.  I think I see a sliver of blue paint slide off the face and fall out of my view.  I cannot imagine it lying on the ground, destroying the perfectly smooth layer of crusted whiteness with its chipped, bluish angularity.

There is no one outside.  Everything is dark.  I see no one with carrying a flickering candlelight in a faraway window.  It seems like there’s no one left alive in all of my experience.  Maybe there isn’t.  I want to go out, despite the cold.  I want to walk around in the darkness.  I want to open my front door.  What will happen if I walk out?  Will anyone see?  What will happen when I open the door?  What will I let in?

The small tree in front of me sways now.  The wind has picked up.  It’s come closer.  I wonder what it brings with it.  I wonder if it will shriek, this wind.  I wonder if it will wail.  I no longer want to open the front door.  I want to curl up into a little ball in the bedroom, on the floor, against the wall, and bury my head within myself, and wait for spring.  I wonder, if I survive, how I will know it’s all right to go outside.  Will someone let me know?  Will somebody come to my door?  Is there anyone left alive to do that?

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