Not so long ago an abandoned farmhouse was struck by lightning and caught fire. It burned through the night and into the next day. When the firefighters finally inspected it only embers smoldered in the rubble. The massive oak crossbeam supporting the roof had cracked and buckled causing the roof to collapse to the second floor. The second floor and roof crashed to the first floor which in turn caved-in to the cellar.
The lieutenant of the crew frowned at the wreckage. The corkscrewed and splintered bones of the old house were heaped in a pile nearly reaching ground level. It looked like a knot of prehistoric snakes spaded up from the center of the earth. He ordered a thorough soaking.
The lieutenant studied what remained of the second story. To his surprise a lolling section of roof rode atop the two walls still standing. It was balanced as if someone with too much time and not enough ambition had leaned two playing cards together and poised a third one just so.
He ordered his crew away from the area. The roof was going to follow the rest of the old house before long.
But it didn’t. The roof maintained its improbable poise.
Over the next few weeks village and township inspectors frowned at the blackened walls and shredded roof. Knocking it down would’ve been prudent. Having the other guy pay for it, wiser still. And so the farmhouse stayed.
The land it now teetered upon hosted a working replica of a nineteenth century farm. It backed to the small woods that were next to the great green field that was attached to the municipal park across the street from Emmie’s home. Emmie visited the farm whenever she could. She loved holding the chicks, petting Bonnie and Babe on their wide muzzles, watching the turkeys chase each other and laughing at the pigs as they rolled in the mud.
Even before the fire Emmie was fascinated by the abandoned farmhouse. She dedicated a minute or so every few visits to walking off the foot path leading to the new farmhouse, high-stepping-it through the brush choking an overgrown side path to stand in the abandoned farmhouse’s shadow.
When she came upon the farmhouse this time the devastation startled her. She shifted her eyes back and across the wreckage trying to figure out a how come. Her gaze settled on the juncture of roof and walls. She considered the bowed walls and crumpled roof magnificent. They appeared ready to keel over that second, but also like they had been set there by Druids a thousand years earlier. Both at the same time.
An iridescent flash at the crux of roof and wall caught her attention. A bird bobbed in and out of that delicate space and then flew away. Emmie watched as it graced the invisible currents between Here and There. He returned with a scrap from the woods where Emmie liked to idle. He flew to the crux of wall and roof, again bobbing in and out of view. Emmie sidled to her right, angling backward to get a better look. Continue reading →