Short piece about the Dust Bowl.
| The house—if it could be called such a thing—stood alone in the field, the only thing extant in a place where life should no longer exist or belong. Abandoned by a family with wrecked pride, who left in search of a new life—not a better life, but a new life—because their old one was not a life. It was just an existence. So what is that which was left behind if it is not a life? What does one call a remnant of existence; of purpose? Is it death? But death has purpose—to end life. This life that once existed has been stolen. All that remains is stagnant air and dirt and existence—save the one lonely “house” in the center of it all; the thing that once was. The dilapidated emblem that stands still after its purpose moved on.|
A mangy dog slowly tromped through the rows in the field, making its way toward the old, gray house. When it reached the house it sniffed around the front door and whimpered—the only sound one could imagine such a dog to make. His tail wagged for a few seconds when he first arrived, but after investigating the area’s stagnance his hope died and the tail ceased to move, dissipating whatever happiness his current state of being could allow. He slowly walked inside and investigated further. The floors were littered with old things not worth taking to the new life with the others: a ragged doll, a broken chair, a pencil, old papers. Trash. Things one would normally throw away, but in this case, leave behind with the life not worth living. The mutt walked across the creaking wood floor and further into the decaying structure. He came to a familiar door and studied it for a few seconds. He then pushed the door open—as he had learned to do years ago—and his hope was rekindled for the few seconds it took for it to open. But the room was found empty, emptier than the rest of the house. All that remained was the frame of an old wooden bed. His tail stopped wagging shortly after, and he made his way into the room.
Outside the dry wind howled and blew the reddish dust through the windows of the house. It had been four months since the family abandoned the property—twenty-eight months by the dog’s reckoning—and the air had grown cold, and drier as well. Not so cold to freeze any crop, but enough to chill any living, breathing thing. The haggard dog shivered at the wind and crawled underneath the bed frame. The wind continued to blow, and soon it blew more fiercely; the dog whined a little, but still it came. The ground began to shake, as if to warn any who stood in a storm’s path, and the howling wind grew to a gale. Outside, in the fields to the west and miles away, the wind began to pick up handfuls of dust and sling them east. Seeing no effect of damage it then proceeded to scoop bucketfuls of the once-earth and throw them in the direction of the small wooden house. The winds picked up speed and, still seeing no sign of its destruction, picked up a beach’s worth of sand and dust and charged at the structure. The earth trembled at the power of the wind as it moved ever closer to the abandoned home. It reached the house and flung a tsunami of dust at it, sending the once-earth through its windows and doors and the cracks in its walls. The dog continued to whine at the storm.
The winds blew shingles off the roof, tore the door off its leather hinges, and nearly knocked down the entire structure. The walls could be heard creaking under the bombarding gale, but they withstood its fury. After a few minutes the air began to still and the winds gave up their attempt to quickly end the purpose still left in the house. Peace was restored. The mutt got to his feet and shook off as much of the dust as he could from his mangy coat after the silence settled in again.
He circled around a few times to get comfortable and laid back down underneath the bed. And there he remained, the new occupant of the house, making it a home once more, waiting for his family to return.