14 September 2015 – Delilah takes another deep breath. She gets out of the van and stands behind the open door. As if shielding herself from the old man’s glaring gaze.
Time is upon her. Everything up to now.
The old man brings a hand to his face. Works fingers along jawbone. She can almost hear the rasp of stubble.
Even at twenty-plus paces there is troubled air between them.
She steps toward the grass-mired trucks. Toward a set of stairs at the side of the veranda wrapping around the main floor of the house. Her feet are heavy on the steps. The boards on the veranda creek with her weight. A line of late bright-morning shadow scores across the siding at waist height. She passes the backless benches centred under two pairs of carelessly shuttered windows. A trio of barrel planters holding nothing but dry grey dirt. Upper body in shade, she stands by the planter nearest the old man. Who hasn’t moved. Hasn’t turned to face her.
He delivers his hands to the front pockets of his stiff jeans.
Delilah comes out of the shade. Crossing her arms she leans in the light against the post beside the old man. An arm’s reach away. So close so far.
He is fully a foot taller than her. Broadly put together. But beaten. From the inside out.
Both face the view. The cargo van and the basking willow. Amorphous foreground blots against the boundless sky stretched broadly across the uniformity of corn.
They each stage courage in the currency of silence.
After a spell, Delilah drops her gaze to the wheelchair ramp. Shoes its surface. Rough grip of sandpaper.
‘Mary’s not doing so well.’
The words, barely formed, sound defeated.
She can’t find words. But reaches out her hand. Bridging the gap between them. Catches his forearm and presses there familially.
The old man places his other hand on hers.
‘Peter,’ she starts to say.
‘We’ll have none of that now,’ the old man says.
She disappears under her grandfather’s arm.