A piece I did for a creative writing course
|The barn was old, with peeling paint and some rotten beams running across the ceiling. No horses live here anymore, now that there’s no one to take care of them. Mice chew through the wooden walls and scurrying sounds click across the stone floor.
I’ve gone to the barn every day since it happened, just to sit in front of the door. At first it just seemed quieter. The horses were led away and sold. I think they realized what was happening. They seemed somber and quite, almost respectful. It was much quieter after they left. I enjoyed it for a while, relished it. Then I felt dirty and mean for enjoying the absence of noise, the absence of the busy life I’d led before it happened.
After a few weeks the cats ran away. They wanted milk and someone to feed them. I can’t do that. It makes me think of how the cats used to be taken care of, how they were loved and how I was loved. It doesn’t happen anymore, I can’t bring myself to do it. The cats are gone and the barn is starting to change.
With no cats around, the mice become bold. They were hungry. There was no cat food to nip at before they were chased away. They always danced across the floor, their toes pattering across the hard floor, the floor that had become matted with dust and riddled with neglect. From my spot next to the door, I could see the pellets of droppings that had never been there before. It was the cats who kept them away, I realized, and now that the cats were gone the mice were going to come.
The barn had been painted the summer before it happened, the summer before it all started to fall apart. It was white and red, the picture of a perfect barn. Within a year it started to chip off and there was no one to touch it up, to make it perfect again. I was getting old and I couldn’t afford to have someone else paint it for me. I wouldn’t want to, anyway. The barn has to be preserved, even if it falls apart. Destroying the barn would be destroying a part of me. It was all I had left, really.
The wind blew the creaky doors open and the dust blew all around. The windows were filthy and grime coated all the surfaces that weren’t moldy from the rain. It was like me, I realized, getting older and nastier without anyone to smile at it and fix it. Nothing could fix it, and nothing could fix me. I wouldn’t let anyone near it.
I know they called me senile and old and crazy and they say I never got over it, and I suppose I never did. It’ll all be better some day, anyway, when I die. Then the welfare office won’t come in when they’re not wanted and I won’t get offers to clean my place for me. If I wanted to I could clean it, didn’t they know that? I spent most of my days by the barn, sitting and muttering and never crying. What use is it to cry? I won’t cry until the barn does.