A little something done to a prompt from another member of our little writing group - people whose creativity and support are most excellent to share at any time, but certainly during another Covid lock-down......... the prompt was one word - "Leaving" - to be done as a single page, and, as such prompts always do, produced five very different approaches. This was mine....
When he left, he hadn't thought he might be leaving forever – that what he was leaving behind would not, one day, offer him familiar comforts upon his return home, and those he was leaving would not be waiting to warmly welcome him into their arms. Now, so many years later, he wondered how much of that long ago life would be left, should he find his way back to the place in which he had been formed.
The welcoming arms were gone, he knew – wrinkled, then withered, and, finally, crumbled into dust; only the leavings of memory remained, thin and faded and comfortless. What was left of his childhood home had been, the letter said, left to him, though how much of those past comforts might be left by now was questionable. The letter carried a date from a year left far behind; it had traveled, and waited, and travelled again – lured on in pursuit of its beneficiary by tales and wild rumours left in his wake, left in the care of someone who longed to see him again, passed on to fresh hands as that hope faded and died, time and again, down the length of a turbulent decade.
Had some recipient
of the letter been prescient in their choice of place and person for
its next destination, or had he somehow doubled back on his own
tracks, and met it coming after him? The date, when he finally opened
it, untouched by any sense of its possible significance, left him
momentarily stunned, and then amused. Its contents, those few dry,
terse, officious paragraphs, had left him empty of breath, heartbeat,
and feeling. How long had he sat there, unaware of the world, before
the senses that had left him so suddenly returned in a wave of pain
How had that time passed so quickly? How could he have not returned when he was needed? Why had he not kept himself informed? The answer came quickly, in the calls and laughter of his team mates, the revving of engines, and the clatter of luggage and equipment. His comrades were almost ready to leave this little oasis of safety and satiety in pursuit of the next adventure, and he would be leaving with them, no matter what the letter in his hands had to say. Whatever had been left him in that missive was from the past – the leavings of a life he could never return to, even if he wanted to.
Boots clattered down the stairs outside his room, and the door shook under the knocking of a gnarled fist. He let the letter slip from his fingers and left it to curl and blacken in the flames of the fireplace as he shouldered his gear and left the past where it belonged.