He jerked his head up from the book he was reading. The sun was dipping closer to the mountains, bestowing a golden kiss on the up thrust peaks. All the harsh lines of the house were softened by the evening light blurring all the edges. The branches on the bare cottonwood tree beside the drive were becoming obscure and indistinct.
It was getting late and sudden concern filled his heart as he walked to the window, scanning the drive, trying to catch a glimpse of her slight figure. Her figure that would be gilded by the last rays of the benevolent evening sun. The last light created a halo around her, seeming to imbue her with magical properties.
His mind wrenched him back to reality, ripping his heart to shreds as the present took up residence again. The past was dead. She was dead. His wife did not live here in the present. Still, every day he would look up from whatever project occupied him and search the drive for her form moving gracefully toward the house, emerging from the hills that surrounded the property. Sometimes he imagined he heard the crunch of her footsteps on the gravel. Imagined he would turn and meet her luminous smile. He could feel her arms slip around him; her lips meet his in love. He could smell her perfume of wind and juniper tangled in her ebony hair. But nothing would be there except the mocking breeze, teasing his nostrils with scents it brought from the hills.
Those hills she had loved to meander through, bringing home treasures of sparkling mica chips and brilliant quartz tinged with rose blushes. Flowers and seed heads. Twisted, gnarled driftwood from an arroyo. His eyes strayed to her priceless treasures arranged on the porch next to the front door. Piles of any item that had caught her eyes. The objects had once been held in her hands, carefully exhumed from sandy graves to be lovingly set in a display like some ancient archaeological discovery. A museum of his wife’s fancy. He wanted to dispose of the entire collection, but could never bring himself to go through with it. Those meaningless rocks and chunks of wood were one of the few tangible reminders he had of her.
He would never go to the hills, where the memories would wind too thick around him, nor venture down the same paths she had trod. He only kept her treasure trove where he saw it every day. He could only wait now, surrounded by memories. Wait for his pain to lessen. Wait for the day he would be reunited with her. For now, the wind only blew the scent of her in the evenings and if he listened closely, her voice played in his ear.
Tory Brannigan is from Espanola, New Mexico. She currently works part time as a landscape designer and has a degree in Horticulture. She also helps her husband in his business of restoring classic cars. She has had two stories published by Long Story Short. Her e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story came from hearing footsteps, but not seeing a person, one summer evening.