Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Soft Ground

Across the pasture, they stepped into the shadows of the barn.

"Oh my God," he said. "This is so cool. I can't believe you grew up here."

"Why?" she said.

He touched the whitewashed stone and picked up some dust. He brushed the color from his fingertips onto his pants.

"I don't know. I see more you in the city. Like hanging out in coffee shops. Maybe going to an open-mike poetry night some evening."

She turned a switch, and a string of dirty bulbs pushed the twilight from the stalls.

"Did you do chores?" he said.

"Yes. Especially in here."

She stood by a post where an old, cracked halter hung from a nail. She turned the leather over in her hand.

"I took care of my horse," she said. "And the other animals."

"You didn't tell me you had a horse."

"His name was Tobacco," she said.

"You're kidding."

She laughed a little and leaned on the rail. "No. When I was little, we used to drive to Georgia to visit my Aunt. I loved looking at the fields and the tobacco barns. I thought it was kind of romantic. I didn't know any different."

"It's a cute name."

Standing back, he imagined a dark horse in the stall. It's rippled shoulders and large, black eyes.

Over her shoulder, the sparse snow glowed blue in the failing light.

"I haven't thought about that in years," she said quietly.

"College will do that to you, I guess. Going home is strange for me too."

Her gaze seemed to fall somewhere far away.

"I used to ride in the night," she said. "Even in the snow. My father yelled at me, but finally he gave up."

He wanted to lay a hand on her back, but hesitated.

"I used to say things to Tobacco," she said. "I used to think he was listening to me. Understanding me."

"What kinds of things?"

But she didn't answer.

His attention drifted again to the snow. In spring, the ground would be soft and rich. The prints of his boots might sink deep.

Turning back, he realized she was staring at him now.

Before he could speak, she kissed him with a quick kiss.

"Let's go," she said.

Outside in the new night, their footsteps crunched crystal castles sprouted from the ground. As she pressed against him, he caught the whispering presence of spring.

(Photo taken this weekend with the new lens. I love the unpredictable results of twilight photography, and the inevitable challenges.)


Chris Eldin said...

Soft and sweet. Like drinking chamomille tea.

Chris Eldin said...

(This message is to Aine.
There's a big dairy farm in the UAE called Ain. I completely forgot about that! I'll take some photos of the fresh milks and cheeses and post them next week)

paisley said...

what a beautiful scene... very well written too....

SzélsőFa said...

wonderful vignette!

Vesper said...

Exquisite! Perfect dialogue and descriptions. Pure pleasure to read. :-)

Aine said...

Gentle, sharing, twilight, and the brink of newness-- perfectly brilliant!

Church Lady, I'd love to see photos! It's very fitting that it's a dairy farm since I have a love affair with cheese. :)

The Anti-Wife said...

Lovely and warm.

Unknown said...

It's gorgeous ... the photo and the story. Well done you.

virtual nexus said...

Lovely subtle piece, nice pic and I've just read a very favourable write up on that rather stunning lens. Digital has definitely got itself out of nappies. I wouldn't touch a print film now if you paid me.

Jaye Wells said...

A lovely vignette. And I love the light effect in the photo. At first I thought the buildings were on fire.

Anonymous said...

Church Lady, such a nice description. :) Care for a cup?

Paisley, thanks. =)

Szelsofa, much appreciated!

Vesper, thanks, my friend. This idea just jumped out of the picture. I was thinking about it while I was brushing my teeth the night before.

Aine, the brink of newness... what a perfect way to put it! Thanks for stopping in the middle of the road so I could take the picture. ;)

Anti-Wife, the people turned the lights on moments before the picture was taken. Great timing.

Quoting Beth, thanks for saying so. :)

Julie, I remember the old days like it was an unpleasant dream. I'd take a whole series of pictures with subtle changes to aperture and shutter speed with absolutely no idea if any of it worked. My avatar was taken with infrared b&w film. There, the complete unpredictability paid off. One of my favorite pictures ever.

Jaye, I'm still blown away by your news. Your comment reads like blah blah blah three book deal blah blah. :D

Sarah Hina said...

Okay, I'm supposed to be on vacation, but I'm no good at it. ;)

This piece felt like a bridge between the girl's past and the couple's future. Cold memory thawing to the warmth of touch. What Aine said. ;)

And the picture was perfectly suited to the words. I could see the heat, and the chill. Just lovely.

Kim said...

I want to know the secrets she told Tobacco.

Heidi the Hick said...

I just want you to know that I love this.

Anonymous said...

Sarah, even though you should be out living it up, I enjoy your comments, so I'll forgive it. ;) This is probably the most intricate relationship vignette I've attempted. I'm very glad that the core essense of it came across. These two were acting out their (mostly) unspoken dreams about relationships. How they carry it forward into reality is the challenge for them.

Kaycie, you struck to the heart of something. My sense is that it's less important what she said years ago than whether she is comfortably on the path of telling him similar things now.

Heidi, thank you for telling me. :)

raine said...

This is absolutely lovely.
Love the setting, the dialogue, the sense of sleeping spring, what's left unsaid.
Well done, Jason.

WH said...

Very nice indeed. I was struck just as Sarah was--a bridge between the past and future possibilities.