The wind whipped the few remaining leaves as they strained on their buds and branches. The sky was as dark as a cloudly midsummer's twilight, but you knew those weren't clouds. The smell of ash stung in your mouth and nose.
Above you, that tree, which once
held the body of a man, was still stained with his blood, showing deep
and black in the darkness. The field before you was long since plowed
and replanted and replowed, the furrows long and deep and leeched of
nutrients. Across that long field that once waved brilliant golden
strands sat a smoking ruin.
As you approach, the ash will sting your eyes and stain your clothes. You will stand there, watching the world smoulder.
clearly nothing left for you here, as the landscape blends into the
grey sky, but something keeps pulling you back. Turn slowly in a circle,
and remember the life this place held in your last visit, now long
past. We know your curiosity would get the better of you, and while your
hands are jammed into your pockets and absently playing with their
meager contents, you don't pull out the silver Liberty dollar. When you
remove your hands, instead its familiar weigh still presses against you
thigh through the thin cloth.
You push what remains of
the door aside as you step into the farmhouse. The walls are all but
gone and the visible foundation stones are burned as black as the stain
on the tree. The stalls are gone, marked only by the metal braces that
held the gates, now fallen to the packed-earth floor.
your paces more carefully than the stalls, you return to where you
think the women sat. In truth, you'e one stall short, but that doesn't
matter. There's nothing there: no walls, no women, no water.
can run from these ruins but they'll still haunt you; the stains will
never come off your clothes, off your skin, and the smell of ash will
always bring all these images, unbidden, back to your mind.