While backpacking my way through Europe, I came across the remnants of a farmstead near the border region between Belgium and Germany.
It saddened me to think of the loss of love and laughter, of productivity and growth. There once had been a family here, a child’s broken toy lay among the wreckage of the farm equipment.
Birds in the trees provided the only sound as I approached the stone structure that once housed the family. Just as my hand reached for latch on the stout wooden door, a torn curtain flapped out through a window left open. It stopped me in my tracks. Could this have been a warning not to enter, or an invitation to “come on in”?
Maybe that day was not the day for me to pay my respects to the memories within this stone cottage? I stepped back and smiled. “Blessings and good will, to those who once lived here,” I shouted, before I turned back towards the road and onto the next part of my journey.
P.A. O’Neil’s stories have been featured in over forty anthologies, on-line journals, and magazines. She and her husband reside in Thurston County, Washington. A collection of her stories, Witness Testimony and Other Tales, is available on Amazon. She was the winner of the 2023 Mustang Flash Fiction Award with her story, “The Great Burro Revolt.” Her article, “Northwest Passage,” about the Ellensburg, Washington Rodeo from the Summer 2022 issue of Saddlebag Dispatches Magazine is currently a finalist for the 2023 Will Rogers Medallion Award. For links to books which feature her stories, please visit her Amazon author page: P.A. O’Neil.