Written a while back, this piece is in dire need of some redline edits, but I thought it worthy of sharing here – as is.
By Jan Verhoeff
Thunder rolled over the face of the prairie, lightning flashed, fragments dissecting a rich dark sky. The color of royalty, purple, rich, thick and overpowering smothered the light from the night.
Rain drops pelted the dry earth. Buffalo grass sucking at the moisture, slurping in gratefully the benefits of water splashed from the heavens.
Winds slashed across the prairie, through the valley, driving the rains sideways at the ground. A moment of silence, the night wind stilled and yet the rains poured. Rhythmic rocking, the sound of motion kept fear at bay, as the Harper’s moved their chairs back-and-forth on the wooden floor of the raised porch. Time stood still a moment longer. Thunder rumbled in the distance, echoing through the vast crevices that ripped across the prairie.
“Do you ever wonder?” he asked, his pipe wisping cherry tobacco smoke into the atmosphere in a steady small stream curling up toward the rafters.
“Not so much, anymore,” she answered, clasping his hand gently in her own, their rockers moving in unison. “Time has gone when I wanted to live there. I’m content in my world, as are you in yours.”
Her voice lingered before him, blending with the wisping smoke of his pipe and lifting above them to disperse among the rain drops that dripped low to saturate the land. The flowing smoothness of a ripple in the ocean gathered speed across the prairie, swelling fields of wheat, rolling waves on the ocean, rising high to plummet deep into the earth’s surface, drying the rain that had fallen, to once again cake the ground with dry hard crust. An owl hooted in the distance, and their hands held tight.
With the morning came the dawning, and an old man rested, weary and drawn.
Too young to die old, and yet his fire smothered out. A lingering moment, a rest of weary light, and family gathered round. Songs of tender memories, shadows escaping the grave, and souls meandering through Maxey held a foreboding story to tell.
From the trench a child’s voice called out, “save me.” The echoes reverberated. The sound in the distance, a truck whirring along the highway, and another, on some far off dirt road, indicated more than a passing mention of time gone.
“Escape, for our world is long past, we must escape and travel forward,” the words whispered on the winds and time moved stealthily along, as a storm encroached on the valley, a dungeon of doom and despair from the depths wailed out. The cries of a child, alone in the darkness, screamed against the rolling thunder, crashing along the prairie floor, gasping at the valleys, shaking against the mesas, and lingering in long echoes. Lightning splintered across the sky, and colors rippled in fragments, dancing over the distance. Rain fell in torrents.
The empty shell of a home on the prairie, a dug out hidden from view, lit by a single reflection held memories of a time long past. A shimmering black plate of hair hung down her back, blue eyes sparkled in the darkness. Age, a relative of time, left no mar on her complexion, and yet an ageless beauty revealed grace.
Her reflection waltzed around the room, grandeur in the mirror the room had never experienced, and outside the rain pelted the brown dried land.
With the golden light of early dawn came drying winds from the south; by noon the rain clouds faded and mud crusted over to dry hard soil, across the prairie.
Carissa carried a basket of flowers, as she strolled across the grass into the cemetery on the hill. An arch above the gate gave the name “Maxey Cemetery” to the grounds with memorial stones and the old stone church that stood tall on the hill above the prairies, in the shadow of the buttes.