Rust coated the hanging hinges and the latch swung loose. The wood, rough and grey, wobbled on rusted nails that poked out at odd angles. The gate scrapped along the dirt path when I carefully tugged it open. It creaked a bit and then came entirely off the post it had hung on for these many long years. I leaned it up against the fence and followed the path into the grove of trees that bordered the long retired farm.
It was early spring here in the Midwest. Trees were dreary and bare. The snow was mostly melted but was still too cold for any greenery. It matches my sour mood, I thought. Life couldn’t get any more dull and colorless now that I’d lost my job, my house, and my husband. In that order.
“Fuck!” I yelled it as loud as I could into the grey overcast sky. The sound was sucked away quickly as if it were swept under the rug in shame. What nice Midwestern farm gal would be so crass?
“Me,” I said aloud. I tramped through the soggy snow melted leaves and twigs. The only sound was a slight squish when my foot came up and I took another step. The birds had not returned yet and the trees rattled their branches in the wind that blew as though to chide me for my intrusion in their sleep.
I followed an old cow path down to the creek. There was a small meadow here that I would share with them when I was a child. They would nip off the tuffs of grass and as they chewed they would stare into the middle distance as if they were dreaming philosophical probabilities. Occasionally, one would wander over and nudge me with their wet, snot-covered nose or lick me with their thick sticky tongue. I’d shove them away and go back to reading my book.
The meadow was empty. The creek trickled through the ice and dirty snow that remained. Even the sound of the running water sounded reproachful.
“Shit.” I turned back and returned to the farmhouse. At least I would have a cup of hot chocolate waiting for me. Mom was great that way.