Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Northridge Elm

Shadow of Light

Windswept leaves spun in a fairy dance about the gnarled old elm tree. Orange, brown, yellow and red like ragged drops of paint bounced and flew as though scattered from an artists brush. The cold air left frost on the cracked glass windows of a rickety old house that sat many feet back from the street.
It showed evidence of better years when the white painted siding and green trim had been fresh and lustrous. Now it was dull and eroded. Time aged and weathered, gray and rough wood speckled the outside. In places the paint hung in peelings from the cracks. The peels gyrated in the wind like butterfly wings.
The once black wrought iron fence leaned and was broken in places. Its primary color now was the color of rust. The gate laid in the brown grass and weeds, which had woven their stems over the iron pickets to clutch it to the ground. The three-acre lot was as open as any forest yet the gate may as well have been affixed in its hinges and locked. No one came these many years.
Gray and dilapidated it was slowly crumbling, becoming more of the land than the landscape. The sidewalk had been great-slabs of shale long ago. Now they were fractured and broken. Their edges no longer joined in a neat serpentine line of scales leading from the road to the porch.
Strange that even stray cats and dogs did not come here for shelter. As though a sign was posted that man and beast could read saying to keep out. The place was as deserted as ever a house had been.
People drove past, but only glanced at the high brown grass and weed choked hedges. When the sun was just at the edge of the horizon the scattered rays of yellow and red were muted by purple giving the old place a look that usually brought comments of it being spooky.
At night the yellow disk of the moon threw the shadow of the old mansion on the ground and across the unkempt lawn in an eerie misshapen caricature of the old place. Well deserved was its reputation as a scary place. Over many years children and teens had come through the broken fence and with trepidation pushed the big front door open to enter. It had become a taunt of bravery to the boys in town. If you’d never been in the old Singleton Mansion you were chicken. The only way to lose that moniker was to have a witness to your brave foray into the other-worldliness of the old mansion. None of the children in town could bring to mind a time when the house had been resided in. All the echoes of voices, cries of joy and peals of laughter were lost. No one remembered and there is no more certain death than that of being forgotten. Daniel stood on the sidewalk before the broken plats of shale. He was neither afraid nor brave. It just happened, that having recently moved into town, he had to walk by the old place to school. All the other kids walked on the other side of the street. He didn’t know anyone yet, so he had no friend to walk with or to warn him. With searching eyes he took in the house the tree and the yard. To him it was just an old wreck of place. His eye lingered on a second floor window. Putting his hand up to shade his eyes he thought for moment he saw a shadow there. Probably a passing cloud he mused. The sounds of kids across the street broke his focus and he turned away. His footsteps sounded loud as he plodded past the last of the old bent fence. Turning to take a last look, he felt a chill across his legs and face.

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About Me

My childhood was spent growing up on a farm in the mountains of northern Pennsylvania. In those years I learned the lessons that would mold my character and moral center. In my teens I moved to a small city in southeastern PA. Like many teens I had my rebellion and found the futility of it. During my late teens I moved to central PA and in high school lost my heart to the girl who is now my wife. Presently I'm well into midlife and slowing rapidly. The things I used to do, I can't even remember. Married for 37 years, we have a son, a daughter and five grandchildren. My son has two boys, my daughter three girls, I love irony! I'm self-employed for most of 25 years in construction. Doing a project for a customer and getting their approval is wonderful and inspiring. I started writing when my children were younger. I did some stories for them and over time it became more of an interest. I now have four completed novels and several shorts and am working towards getting one or more published. One short has been published.

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