The Wishing Well

Photo by form PxHere CC0 Public Domain

Tears flowed down my cheeks like a river overflowing its banks. The salty secretion reminded me of swimming in the sea as I licked the wetness from my lips. I knew today would be heart-rending. And yet, I still wasn’t ready for the task at hand. I had delayed it for far too long.

As I stumbled along the flower-lined path towards the cottage, memories, like movie scenes, flashed upon my inner vision screen. Ending any hope of stemming the tide of my tears. Memories of when we first met. Our first kiss. Our wedding day. The birth of our children. The times she spent tending these flowers. All the love we shared through the good and bad times. Our lives together.

Our cottage was her favorite escape. We bought it after the kids were on their own. Our little hideaway tucked among a splendid, wooded area on Deer Lake in Michigan. Her favorite time to visit was autumn when the trees put on a spectacular display of colors. Nancy called it her “rainbow forest”.

We had made plans for our kids and grandkids to come up for the Fourth of July. When the family all got together, we would pitch tents for sleeping quarters. It was a grand adventure for the grandkids. Gathering around the firepit, making smores, telling stories. She was in all her glory. No one could tell a scary story like her. Just ask any of the girls that had her for a Girl Scout leader.

I stood frozen at the door, unable to turn the door handle. I would walk through this door without Nancy by my side for the first time. I will never again smell which delectable dinner she was concocting. Or hear her laughter as she heard me once again say I caught no fish that day. I never had the nerve to tell her that when I went out on the boat I just sat and communed with nature. Enjoying the gentle rocking of the boat, the sun on my face, and whatever opera the birds were performing that day.

I opened the door. And slid to the threshold. Unable to control any bodily function. My t-shirt now becoming wet at the collar from the waterfall of tears. How am I going to do this? I regret not taking my daughter up on her offer to come with me.

I crawled more than walked inside. Shakily standing I took a few steps to the nearest chair. Her rocking chair. Beside the chair, a book of poems by Emily Dickenson sat on the end table. Emily was her favorite poet. I lifted the book and opened it to her bookmark. It opened to this:

Because Of Death

Because I could not stop for Death –
He kindly stopped for me –
The Carriage held but just Ourselves –
And Immortality.

We slowly drove — He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility –

We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess — in the Ring –
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain –
We passed the Setting Sun –

Or rather — He passed Us –
The Dews drew quivering and Chill –
For only Gossamer, my Gown –
My Tippet — only Tulle –

We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground –
The Roof was scarcely visible –
The Cornice — in the Ground –

Since then — ’tis Centuries — and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses’ Heads
Were toward Eternity –poet.

Emily Dickenson

My future passed before my eyes as an emptiness impossible to define swallowed me whole. The future was one I had no desire to explore. Finally, after what seemed an eternity, I found my legs. I stood as if a toddler taking that first momentous step. I knew that I would need my kid's help to get the property ready to sell.

I walked to the kitchen to get a glass of water. As I opened the cabinet door, I was struck by the antique set of dishes she bought at a garage sale in nearby Clarkson. Nancy was a garage sale junkie and could find a treasure in a prison garage sale.

The seller was an old man whose wife had recently died. He told us they had no children to pass down their belongings. The dishes were originally his wife’s great-grandmothers from Italy. Even I had to admit they were stunning. My daughter will now add another chapter to the story of this fine china.

I concluded that I would accomplish nothing on this day. I would just do a quick walk-through to make sure everything was okay. I entered the smaller bedroom where we put in bunks for the little ones. I noticed a stack of baseball cards on the small table. Noah, my oldest grandchild, must have forgotten them the last time they were here. He doesn’t know this yet, but he will inherit my collection from when I was a child. They are worth a small fortune now.

I staggered out the door. I walked out to the wishing well we had on the property. We made so many great wishes there. I made one more wish and threw in a coin. I remember when you walked beside me. I wished for that.

©2022 Joe Merkle All rights reserved.

Thank you for reading.

This great prompt spurred me to action. Not an easy thing to do these days.

These Three Things
Create a piece around these three objects
A book of poetry, a set of dishes, a stack of baseball cards

I want to thank Christine Graves for this wonderful weekly prompt as an editor of Promptly Written. Thank’s to Ravyne Hawke for running such a great publication and all the editors helping her. Marcus aka Gregory Maidman, Charlie Cole, Katrina D., Joanne Olivieri, Alyse Rowe, Rose Malana. Thanks for all you do.

I also want to thank the editors from Know Thyself, Heal Thyself for considering publishing this piece on their publication. Spyder, Ravyne Hawke, jules, Diana C. Thank you all for your wonderful contributions to another great publication.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store