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A Knock On Heaven's Door

by Alice Baburek


The old and lonely woman lay silently awake on the lumpy mattress. She blinked back the tears as she outstretched her aching arm to the empty side of the bed. Margaret Livingston struggled a minute or two before she painfully lifted, then turned her aged and decrepit body. They’d lived there for over forty years. Forty wonderful years. Until…until he was gone. She’d lost count of the years since Charlie snuggled close to her side. But she still remembered his muscular arms would hold her tight, calming her fears, then leaving her with a sense of peace and tranquility.

Margaret tiredly sobbed against the worn and tattered pillowcase. The crippling arthritis held her captive, not only in body, but in soul.

As minutes turned into hours, her stomach grumbled from the devouring emptiness. Margaret, overwhelmed with despair, forced herself to dress. Frustration rose as she slipped into the oversized wool sweater to keep warm. The cold metal walker stood stoic against the sagging bed. A strong medicinal odor hung heavy in the room.

Old black and white photo of a couple in their youth looking passionately at each other, in an antique frame.
Image credit: Canva

Margaret’s foggy eyes tried desperately to focus on the photograph that sat upon a red-stained dresser. A tiny smile curled from her wrinkled lips. She gingerly pulled herself up and moved toward the fast-fading memory. The photograph had yellowed over the years, but the handsome and lean middle-aged man remained ageless, a beautiful young woman pressed securely by his side.

Margaret’s smile vanished. Tears overflowed her sunken cheeks. She stumbled, knocking into the dresser. The timeless photo shattered as it tumbled to the dirty floor.

“No!” screamed Margaret.

Tiny pieces of glass bounced about, leaving the memory intact. Consumed with relief, she steadied herself to bend down. Once upright, the pangs of hunger intensified to the point where she could no longer ignore them. Sniffling, she placed it back in its place, then with a slight push of the metallic legs, Margaret dragged herself to the kitchen.

Picture of an old cast iron stove top with clay jars above.
Image credit: Annie Spratt on Unsplash

The cast iron pot was black and warped. A special gift from her great-grandmother of long ago. It had provided many years of delicious foods for the both of them. Charlie would marvel at Margaret’s delectable touch. For a brief moment, her thoughts were happy ones. And then the realization of her loneliness seeped in.

“No matter,” she mumbled.

As she glanced over at the brown tip pages of the handwritten recipe book, Margaret’s washed-out blue eyes could read very little.

What kind of life is this?

The unexpected knock startled Margaret from her darkened thoughts. A strange prickling sensation inched its way down into her inflamed, crippled fingers. Once again, a knock, this time louder.

“Who is it?” called Margaret as she slowly neared the peeling door.

A coldness seeped through the battered wood, penetrating her heavy sweater. Not hearing a reply, she cautiously unlatched the lock with a shaky hand, then turned the tarnished knob.

For a brief moment, Margaret felt confused. Her jumbled mind tried to put a name to the familiar smiling face. A handsome, muscular man stood tall, wearing a green polo shirt and gray dress slacks. He tipped his head.

“Charlie? Is that…you?” whispered Margaret, her mind flashing to the photograph on the dresser.

The well-groomed man nodded in agreement.

“How is this possible? And…and you’re so young!” exclaimed Margaret as she steadied herself with the walker.

He held out his hand.

“It’s time, Margaret. Come with me,” said the familiar face.

Margaret outstretched her curled fingers. As their hands lightly touched, her heart skipped a beat. A peaceful, serene easiness radiated inside, releasing her inner soul.

“I’m…I’m young again,” exclaimed Margaret as Charlie wrapped his arms around her delicate waist and gently kissed her on the lips.

“And so, we shall stay this way, forever…”

A bright, consuming light surrounded the couple, then disappeared into the heavens above.

A couple holding hands with sun shining on their hands.
Image credit: Joe Yates on Unsplash

A battered “For Sale” sign hung crooked from the leaning post. The newlywed couple anxiously looked about the disrepair of the empty house.

“What do you think? I mean…it’ll be a lot of work to fix it up, but the price is perfect! The possibilities are endless!”

The twenty-something woman grasped her husband’s hand as he glanced about the weathered structure.

His wife pulled him inside. “Just think…this is the kind of house where we could grow old together…”


***

Black and white photo of the author, Alice Baburek.
Alice Baburek

Alice Baburek is an avid reader, determined writer and animal lover. She lives with her partner and four canine companions. Retired from one of the largest library systems in Ohio, she challenges herself to become an unforgettable emerging voice.

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