Here.

Here’s where I am, on this day buried deep in gray-and-white January: I’m in a tiny Vermont village — general store with a beer cooler and sandwiches made-to-order, post office open for its afternoon hours, volunteer fire department. It’s early afternoon, and I’m walking back to my library with an armful of mail, and no one’s around, the store empty of customers, no passing cars or granite trucks on Route 14 — no one but me and my library mail and a man on the steps of an unused church. He’s pressing his phone, and he doesn’t look at me.

I stand there, on the pavement, looking at him. I know who he is, as I’m sure he knows who I am, although we’ve never exchanged a single word between us. I know he’s been at my desk, illicitly after hours in the library, sitting with his hands on the worn wood, surrounded by stacks of books, my untidy bins of yarn and crochet hooks, the hastily piled colored scraps of paper. All around are small offerings from children — tiny notes to Miss Brett, a sketch of a piglet, an orange origami box holding a clay snowman. Miniature paper airplanes folded by 7-year-old hands.

On this January day, I keep thinking back to that sunny October afternoon, the leaves turning gold and russet. Had I known that man would be dead within months, I might have stood there a little longer and then walked over to him, said, Come in through the door and not the window.

As a writer, I’ve spent years training myself to look for junctures, to know actions matter far more than thoughts — and yet, that afternoon, I kept walking. Maybe I guessed I had all the time in the world, maybe I judged some things can slide without action and the world will work its own wonders. Maybe it was simply that the day was a fine autumn one, and I believed I had things to do.

I turned left, up the dirt road, and carried on with whatever I was thinking, and that particular day passed in the great finality of the past.

I believe that there is one story in the world, and only one. . . . Humans are caught—in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, in their avarice and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity too—in a net of good and evil… There is no other story. A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well—or ill?

— John Steinbeck, East of Eden

IMG_0917.jpg

Johnson, Vermont

 

About Brett Ann Stanciu

A writer and sugarmaker, Brett Ann lives with her two daughters in stony soil Vermont. Her novel HIDDEN VIEW was published by Green Writers Press in the fall of 2015. Let my writing speak for itself.
This entry was posted in community and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s