Edward had arrived at the back of his lot.
The horse had stopped on its own without him realizing and he dismounted quickly. The wind had stopped for the time being but snow was starting to fall, coating everything in a thin white film like white washing a fence. He hadn’t had a good night’s sleep since Mary’s passing and he felt particularly weak getting down off the horse, but nonetheless the work needed to be done.
He stepped over his farmland’s boundary and removed the pegs of the fence in order to drag the carcass back into the trees. Within a few minutes he had detached the board form the horse and had begun dragging the board back into the woods.
The woods were still and quiet, with each step the snow crunched beneath his boots and eventually he arrived at the spot he had dropped the last two corpses.
The other cows would now be completely frozen and they were covered in snow. He slid the carcass onto the ground and scraped off the last bits of blood from the board using some snow and ice.
He stood amongst the three distinct piles before slowly turning his gaze to the portion of the woods he had been avoiding. In the direction he now faced lay the broken tree, the small stream and then…the Graveyard, the area in which he had buried his wife and unborn child last month.
The snow began to fall silently as he rubbed his eyes and turned back towards his horse, he did not wish to stand there reminiscing of the things he was without. He did not want to stand and think of the future he had lost, how the family he always wanted was within his reach just last month and how now…he would exit this world the same way he was brought in; alone and scared.
He carried the board out and attached it back to the horse before beginning to ride home, he did not wish to linger. The snow began falling faster and thicker now and the wind began to pick up as well, so he rode as fast as he could without breaking the board dragging behind. By the time he had arrived at the farm the snow was so thick that he could barely see the barn and it was only by chance he slowed down in time to see the open barn doors. He rode his horse straight in, put him in his pen and shut the barn doors before heading inside his home.
The house was silent in contrast to the unforgiving wind which blanketed his entire farm in a white wall of snow. He stood in the front hall catching his breath and allowing a small amount of the snow to melt and drip from his boots and hat. His gaze again fell onto the den, to the empty tea glass, the knitting needles and the baby clothes Mary had been making before her death. He turned to the crib in the den which sat against the wall that was closest to him and shook his head softly.
He removed his coat, hat and boots and walked briskly towards the cellar as he could hear the wind begin to push against the house, causing it to creak and groan with every gust.
In the basement he lit the stove and sat down on the chesterfield. A few moments later he was asleep with the crackling stove illuminating the darkened walls with soft red light. For the first time since Mary’s passing Edward not only slept soundly, he also dreamt.
In his dream Edward was father to a young boy, they were fishing together in the stream by the graveyard out past the tree line behind his house. The boy laughed as Edward showed him how to hook a worm and together they caught almost half a dozen fish. In the dream Mary walked from the direction of the graveyard looking as vibrant and beautiful as the day they met. She was singing a sweet little song that the boy immediately recognized as he stood up and ran to his mother with joy, Edward’s heart was swelling with pride and love when he woke up.
The basement was still bathed in red from the embers but it was well below freezing. He stood up groggily and opened the stove to stir the embers a bit, he added another log before he stopped and stood up listening intently.
There was a soft singing coming from the floor above.