He drove straight through, despite his full bladder and his aching left knee. He wanted to get to the summer house before sunset, and he still had twenty miles to go. He had considered stopping at the general store, but that would mean another round of condolences from whoever happened to be there, and he did not want that. He had hardened himself against the constant expressions of sympathy. Something inside him needed to be kept safe from intrusion until he could decipher it.

 

At the house, leaves had carpeted the long driveway, masking the crunch of the car tires on the gravel so that no sound disrupted the silence of the tall dark pine trees, brooding nearby. He approached slowly, driving with caution, feeling as though he needed to be prepared for something, although he could not think what it might be. The house stood as it had been left, windows shuttered and blinds drawn, ready for someone to appear and open it. Usually that would have happened months ago.

 

As he sat looking at the house, he could almost hear the soft chorus of the wind chimes she always hung on the porch when they arrived, but he knew that could not be. He had taken them down when the house was closed-up last year. He felt the weight of the door key in his shirt pocket. Why had he come here, where her presence had been everything? He searched his mind, trying to understand. No answer came, so he stopped wondering. Right now, the rooms were empty and silent, waiting to be filled with life as they always had been before. Still, he sat, not moving, and not leaving the car, fearful that his life alone would not be enough to fill them.

 

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