The West Wind | Ash Warren

A woman returns to her spiritual home.

The West Wind

By Ash Warren

For the ‘Triumphant Return’ Award

I want a bath, fresh bread and the touch of your hand. I want to walk across our lawn again in my bare feet and climb the jacaranda tree like when we were kids. I want to wear my old clothes again, the ones I left behind this morning, the ones that remind me steadily who I am. I want rain, I want to feel it on my face again and watch the gathering sky from my window glowering like an angry child and feel the hushed expectation of a storm.

It’s so good to be home again, but it looks like you’ve all left in a hurry. Where is everybody? The door’s wide open, the car’s gone. Strange. That’s not like you. You even left the TV on. I sit down in Dad’s chair to watch it, because it’s the news talking about the guy at my college this afternoon. The police are trying to talk to him? I don’t think he’s the talkative kind. He didn’t say word to me today. Not one word. Just turned and pointed… I had no idea, didn’t see it. A noise like a door closing, a tiny curl of bitter smoke…. Then he’d just walked on. Is that where you all are?

There’s a blouse and some washing left folded on my bed, my leather belt, my rack of shoes, the posters on the wall, the makeup on the chest of drawers, the stack of books residing on the bedside table, the ones I want to read, the ones I bought to look clever. Anyway, I won’t read them now.

I look around and see myself spread out in things. The cup and saucer on the desk, the old bus tickets in the drawer, the broken tennis racquet in the corner. Strangely, they are all over there now, somewhere else beyond the news, lost between my morning and my afternoon, between this loosening present and this road I’m about to take. Like they’ve fallen through the cracks. Like I have.

The west wind’s coming now. It’s bending the liquidambar’s branches in the yard, it’s telling old stories in the bright green leaves and fluttering at the rose trestles like a woman waving a handkerchief at a far-away ship. It’s coming for me.

I know now it’s natural to want to come home, just as when you’re home it’s natural to want to leave. We come home to remind ourselves of what we no longer are, to search for strangers and to look at ourselves in familiar mirrors and wonder maybe, if we are that person, the one who watched this TV, the one who always sat on this chair for dinner every night, the one who did her homework at this old desk and who listened to these forgotten CD’s.

Right now, it doesn’t matter that I don’t know. I was this and you were that, my goodnight kiss and my smile at breakfast, the people in my photographs, sitting in their frames and remembering things for later, so we don’t forget. We all forget.

The west wind’s here now, and it’s here for me.

In the yard I kick off my shoes and feel the grass again, the sharp, cool buffalo grass that Dad’s just cut. I spread out my arms and curl my toes into its softness as if to hang on. But there’s no staying here. The wind snaps at my clothes like an angry dog and my hair whips my face as I begin to spin.

The End