The Couple on the Hill

Submitted into Contest #124 in response to: End your story with someone finding themselves.... view prompt


Coming of Age Inspirational

In my early forties I began to doubt myself. Had I accomplished enough so far? Did I have enough time left to achieve the lofty dreams of youth? Which would be longer, the trail behind me or the path ahead? I wouldn’t say that I had a mid-life crisis, because no one wants to think of their days on a timeline, but I did do something somewhat spontaneous.

It was a windy, fall day in late September. The sky- a heavy, gray blanket- was waiting for the right moment to weep. I was on my way home from work and wrestling with my inner monologue. At work, the commotion pushed the thoughts away. At home, my husband’s presence set me at ease. I could handle other scenarios alone, but my commute was a trap. The humming highway and the cage of my car unleashed an inner battleground. Will I have this same job until the day I die? Will I ever start the projects I actually care about? Am I selfish? Will I live to be 100? Do I really want to? Am I doing enough? Am I enough?... 

When the first, swollen drops of rain hit my windshield, the tears hiding behind my thoughts escaped me. I clutched the wheel and tried to steady myself. It seemed the earth shared my misery and the heavens would be a gray monster forever. The wave of rain and emotion came just in time for me to miss my exit. I pressed on, forking away from my safe, little home and into the direction of my childhood town. Every thought that had been chewing away at the edges was now devouring my full attention. Will I ever be okay with myself? Am I getting this right? How can I know? Am I doing enough? Am I enough?...

With the passing of each exit I felt more drawn to the sleepy neighborhood of my youth. I pressed on until I found myself parked in front of the blue, chipped shingles of the old house. Staring through clouded eyes at the aged relic, I made a wish to be delivered by it’s distant memories. Please, bring me back. Please help me. Give me a hint…anything. I don’t want to be a waste. I rested my head on the steering wheel and wept. 

After a few moments with my eyes shut, someone tapped lightly on the car window. Startled, I instinctively hit the horn, but, at once recognized the slight frame under a black umbrella. I hopped out and rushed her up the hill across the street. 

“You should stay out of weather like this!”

“Oh, but I saw you through the window, and I just couldn’t pass on such an opportunity!”

“Let’s warm you up.”

The house was exactly the same. Everything in its place, filled with objects of intrigue, and smelling of vanilla, pipe tobacco, and chimney smoke. The frail figure tucked a paisley blanket around my shoulders and sat at my side just as she had done so many times when I was the little girl who lived across the street. 

“Why are your beautiful eyes so full of sorrow, my lovely?”

A few more tears broke free as I put my hand in hers. The fire sparked life into the room, and I could only see her face.

Her eyes were a beacon- otherworldly and kind. Her hands were small and fragile like lace. She laughed as her cat curled between us, vying for attention.

The room seemed oddly hollow. The smell of pipe hovered in the corners with the shadows.

“Is he asleep already? Was your trip out West a great success?”

“Oh, it was! We had such a splendid time. We were pioneers nouveau. True adventurers!” She paused briefly, “As far as asleep goes. Yes, my lovely, he is. He fell fast asleep last November and didn’t wake up.”

Our hands tightened and she gazed at the fire. After a moment, she met my eyes and lifted my chin with her fingertips.

“I want to share something with you.”

She crossed the room opening a small drawer in the middle of a looming bookcase. After retrieving an envelope with old edges she made her way back to my side. 

“These are my treasures. I store them here, but they will go with me when I leave.”

She handed me the envelope. 

“I wrote the first and he the next. Could you read them out loud for me, my lovely?”

Her head rested on my shoulder as I took care with the two brittle pages. I read them to her softly but clearly.


I look over my shoulder and I see

A symphony formed of broken notes

A beautiful gown pieced together

From the rags of prayer and doubt

That I handed to my Maker.

Forward now I force my gaze

To more discord and imperfect pieces

Stepping into the unknown 

I anticipate the waltz of God.


We are each a glimmer

In the eye of God.

A notion, an idea, a song.

Though we are formed

By crawling and dancing and stumbling along

We ever reside 

In the Maker’s mind.

To begin to fathom

To listen

To the drumming of our hidden heart

To tune our ear 

To the Whisper of Breath

Residing in our lungs

Is to hear and enjoy

The music 

Written for us and through us.

Our song does not end.

God’s eye never closes.

Death is an invitation 

To return

To see fully 

As a glimmer 

In the eye of God.

“I believe we were around your age when these thoughts formed. It has been such an exciting journey since. You will always be my lovely, and I will treasure you as much. How wonderful to see your face! You are the same little girl. Thank you for coming to see me.”

On that day, I began to write my own secret treasure. Someday I hope to open a drawer and hand it onward.

December 14, 2021 22:08

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Isaiah Ramos
22:53 Dec 22, 2021

This was a lovely story. I find myself having the same kinds of thoughts during my 40 minute commutes back and forth to work. Too much time left to thoughts, and always concerning the validity of the job. I loved the imagery, especially the weeping sky, and how it connected to the narrator's emotions. Well done! I'm assuming the old woman is the narrator's grandma or someone the narrator regularly visited as a child. As such, I find myself wondering how she doesn't know that [whoever "he" is] is long gone (especially if she only lives a sh...


C.B. Oates
16:03 Dec 26, 2021

Thank you for the input! I'm glad it brought joy. The way I had it in my head was that the woman was a kind neighbor friend and that the woman stayed in contact over the phone. She knew of the older couple's trip but the man's death was sudden and came after their out West adventure. I'll reread that for better clarity. Thank you again!


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Sharon Mathias
19:29 Dec 19, 2021

What a wonderful story! 5 stars! What touching poems! Very uplifting and inspiring


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