When I returned to the old field, all that was left were the shadows, which stood as erect and exact as the day the house was finally knocked. The setting sun cast them, long and thin, to the east, reaching across the field, grasping at reality.
Yes, I could still discern someone standing in the space that was the kitchen window. They didn’t flinch as I examined them. Despite the length of it, I could still identify that sex of the shadow, round bumps where the breasts are and wide hips. My mother, coming to old age when she was plump and short. She spent much of her life in the kitchen of the old house, baking for the elderly neighbours and cooking for the kids. Now her shadow stands looking out at the geraniums that have spread from the old flowerbed that was in front of the house, all across the area.
And I walk around the perimeter of the shadows, counting the steps like I did as a child walking around the old house when it stood. The point of the shadow looks like an arrow pointing to the rising night and as I stare at it, it moves. Another outline breaks from it, a man, my dad. I never found out how many steps it was around the house as a child because my dad would intercept me around the back. He was a good man. He would throw me in the air or swing me around until I ran out of breathe from laughing. My dads shadow put out its hand, which rested on my arm and then disappeared back into the outline of the house.
And it came to leaning against the entrance to the field, the old rusty gate that left brown lines along my jacket, watching the sun set and the memories fade. The sea of flowers closing their petals for another night, hiding their fragile beauty from the cold wind until the sun rose again in the morning. The shadows of the old house faded away and the sun set and the lights flashed on, all at once. Square rectangles of yellow light, hanging in the air, beamed across the field, projecting silhouettes of my father, my mother and my older brother. Soon, I think, my shadow will be there. The gate creaks like my bones as I close it behind me and I get into my daughters car. And she drives me back to the home complaining how cold it is all the way.