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The Weathervane

a couple at breaking point

By Wilkie StewartPublished 3 years ago Updated 3 years ago 4 min read

She gripped the counter. "You don't understand what it's like," she said. She heard the mug clatter on the table and the door bang as he left. The problem wasn't just with him, she didn't really understand herself. She took the half-eaten breakfasts and emptied them in the bin for the pigs, then put the plates in the sink to soak. The windows were streaked with the rain of the last week, but she could see a glimpse of better weather somewhere, probably near the water. She clenched again at the thought of the hospital by the lake.

She took clean washing out of the dryer and went upstairs. She put his underwear in the drawers beside their bed, already neatly made, and took her own to the guest bedroom. After putting them away she made the bed. This had been her idea. Just to give me some time, she had said. Was she being unreasonable? Was he?

The screeching began again as the wind rattled the bathroom window. She went through and forced it shut. It rattled less but the screeching from the roof continued. Downstairs she looked through the post. There was a final demand from the carriers.

She went out into the courtyard and crossed to the barn. She avoided the puddles where the rain had gathered from penetrating the dilapidated roof. He was fiddling with the engine in the tractor. She bit down the urge to tell him to get a mechanic in since the fix he had made himself last year was leading to more problems. "You have to pay this bill," she said. He carried on with what he was doing, not even looking up. She crossed to where he was and waved the letter in his face. "If we don't pay this, they won't transport the lambs next month. They could ban you. We're in enough trouble."

He picked up a wrench from his toolbox and tightened some nuts. "I'll deal with it when I'm ready, OK?" he said. There was anger in his voice, but he didn't look at her. The weathervane on the roof of the house started screeching again.

"We need to fix that vane," she said. The screeching stopped again as if mocking her.

He tightened something else in the engine then shut down the lid. "You know I can't go up there," he said.

"Then I'll bloody do it," she said. She went to the shelf, crooked and half-collapsing, and lifted the jar of grease he used for machinery. Something the size of a mouse scurried into the shadows. She began to take the big ladder down from the wall.

He strode over. "I'll get that. Are you sure about this?" His face had hardened over the years they had struggled on the farm, but here was the old him, soft with concern. The vane screeched again as the breeze blew through the holes in the barn walls.

In the house she put on her old jacket and placed the jar in one of the big pockets. He had followed and put the ladder against the side of the house. The roof was L-shaped and he placed the top of the ladder where the corner was. He held onto it as she climbed. The wind was light, she could feel it on her face, but the ladder was well-made, and she ascended easily enough. At the gutter she saw the repairs she had made two years ago were beginning to crack again. That was a job for the Autumn.

She looked up. The weathervane was in the shape of a cockerel with one claw raised as if it was fighting. There were flat stones that made a stair up to the vane's base. They were green with moss. She heard him shout be careful as she crawled onto the steps. She stayed half crouched as she ascended. She realised she had her house shoes on rather than boots. Would they make that much difference?

She moved further up, rested and glanced back down. The height didn't worry her. She knew that his vertigo prevented him doing it. What bothered her was that she couldn't see him. Why was he still holding the ladder? If she couldn't see him, he couldn't see her. She moved on. Just as she reached the weathervane a gust of wind made it turn sharply. The eye stared at her like it was alive, the claw almost raked her face. She lost her balance then caught herself by crouching again.

She raised her arm to hold the vane steady while she lowered herself to sit at its base. She took out the grease and as she was rubbing it into the fulcrum, she realised there was something in there. She pulled at it. It was fur and bones. Working one-handed, she tore the thing free and threw it down into the courtyard to get it out of the way. She should have shouted first. She listened. No complaint. She must have missed him. She cleared out the rest of the corpse, put it in her pocket and finished greasing the vane. When she was done, she lowered herself down a few steps, releasing her hand from the base as she did so. She watched the vane turn back and forward. Its voice was silenced.

She could see down the valley towards the lake and the town. The water glinted as the sun shone for a few seconds and then was lost in cloud again. Across the courtyard the barn roof was in bad shape. They would need a professional to fix that before it collapsed.

She lowered her leg onto the ladder and heard him shout "I've got you". Once she was down they looked at the remains of the animal she had thrown. "A rabbit, I think," he said. "Possibly some bird had stashed it and then forgot about it."

They buried it in a corner of her garden, and she said a little prayer, she wasn't sure why, but it mended something in her, something which the miscarriage had left undone.

A year later she was clearing out some of her old clothes to make more room and found the remaining rabbit bones in her old jacket. She left them there, superstitious until the new baby was born.

Short Story

About the Creator

Wilkie Stewart

Writer of strange little tales living in Glasgow, Scotland. A former IT professional who loves literary fiction, poetry, Eurovision, art-house film, post-crossing, and comics. Walks daily with his camera when he can. @werewegian1 on Twitter

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    Wilkie StewartWritten by Wilkie Stewart

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