Sunday Scribbling #174 prompt – anticipate
Avery walked along the path to Simons’ house, munching on one of the crisp apples that hung on the tree at the side of the path. He had snatched it and several more as he passed by. The morning was just beginning to lighten as the sun climbed a bit higher and it felt good. He had this sense of anticipation, like something was about to happen but examining his feelings, there was no apprehension. Maybe something good then. He checked the traps he had set the day before and found he had snagged a nice fat rabbit. There would be meat in the stew tonight! He tied the rabbit to the side of his pack and continued on. As he rounded the corner by the stream that ran next to Simons’ house he saw something in a heap next to the front door. Dropping his apple, he started running yelling “Simon!”. Oh, don’t let him be dead! He got to the door and felt his pulse. It was weak, but he was alive. He half carried and half drug him inside and put him on the bed.
Simon moaned, as Avery got a drink of water and brought it to his lips. Avery held him up to drink and then lay him back on the bed. He could see no wounds but the old man was skin and bones. He had never been fat but he seemed much older and more frail than one year of being gone should have caused.
He covered him with a quilt and set about cleaning the rabbit. He left him long enough to go outside to the garden that he had been tending ever since Simon disappeared. He gathered vegetables and herbs and washed them off in the stream. He brought everything back into the little house and got a fire started in the fireplace. He filled a pot with water and hung it over the fire to start heating. He chopped herbs and added them and next the vegetables. While it was heating, he finished cutting up the rabbit and added it to the stew and soon the pot was bubbling and the smell of thyme, basil, garlic, and onions filled the house. He hoped that good food and rest would set Simon back to rights.
He wondered for the hundredth time, where the old man had been this last year. He started to move into his house several times but though he spent a night there sometimes, he couldn’t shake the feeling that it belonged to Simon. It was almost as if the house waited for his return. He had kept it clean and tended the garden. He had tried to use what Simon had taught him to help the folks that came looking for medicines and advice. It never seemed enough and he missed Simon.
Throughout the day he watched over him, occasionally coaxing him to drink. He seemed to be resting easier and by evening, he was sitting up to drink and holding the cup himself. “Do you think you can sit at the table?” Avery asked him. Simon nodded and Avery helped him to a chair. He set a bowl of hot stew in front of him and some apple slices. He added a hunk of bread he had in his pack and fixed himself a plate and sat across from him. Simon ate silently but finally looked up at Avery with a small smile and nodded his thanks. There would be time for questions later. For now Avery was just glad he was back. Simon ate most of the stew and softened the bread with some of the broth. He even ate a few slices of apple. He chewed every bite slowly as though he wanted to hold the taste in his mouth. When he was through, Avery helped him back to bed and he slept again, but he had more color in his face.
Avery cleaned up from their meal and went outside to sit and smoke a pipe. The owl was back in the tree in the front yard. He hadn’t seen him since Simon left. The moon was rising and the nightbirds were singing. It seemed that all of the world was welcoming Simon back. Avery sighed and went in to sit watch for the night. He closed the shutters and as he did he stared at the moon which for some odd reason seemed infinitely sad and lonely tonight. He shook the feeling off, just happy that his anticipation had been real. He made himself comfortable in Simons’ rocking chair, not wanting to take his eyes off him. The folks around would soon notice but they would leave gifts for his needs and respect his privacy until he was ready. There would be a time when he would have to tell Simon about the evil that had crept into the valley. For now, rest Simon and welcome.