The Old Barn

The breath of a raging god spewed hail like spittle against the fragile sides of the tired barn. One piece of siding, impaled with a solitary rusty nail onto the frame, screeched its agony as the wind whipped it from side to side and slapped it onto boards on either side. The door was missing. Inside remained the faded stench of ancient manure, now sodden from the rain, soaking into a crumbling concrete floor. Birds took shelter in the rafters. Pigeons, finches, robins cooed and twittered nervously; even a soggy hawk, viewed askance by its less predatory neighbors, preened its wet feathers. Rats had chewed most of the leather on old harnesses left there to rot. Several rodents scampered across the floor, unconcerned by the storm, hunting the baby rabbits their naïve mother had left in a corner nest under the last of the decomposing straw.

A faded sign above a horse stall read, “Jiggety.” On the other side, stools and battered milk cans suggested a cow or two. There was no mistaking the smell of pigs at the other end of the barn beside a storage room, in which sat a rusted plow, surrounded by petrified wagon wheels and the metal frame of a disintegrated wagon. A fox darted out from behind the wheels and into the storm.

A newer disused tractor hid in the lee of the barn, its tires flat, its paint faded. Two metal gas cans, dented and opened, littered the site. The whole building groaned. The gale whistled through gaps in boards and broken window frames, combining with the creaks and groans to create a ghastly symphony. Whatever few flakes of paint were still on the outside, would be gone by morning.

The storm abated as suddenly as it had come. Slivers of sunshine poked through the broken windows, raising wispy tendrils of steam from the floor. The hawk left, soaring high, stretching glorious wings into the freshly washed air.

I turned to watch the hawk, leaving the barn’s sadness behind me. Perhaps I would heal, after all.

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