Winter Sonata

by Miki Marks

Harry died in late spring and it was several months before Lynn came out of the daze of grief. She resumed work on her third novel and it was progressing again. As she looked through her study window she saw the red and gold leaves drifting from the trees in the orchard and was surprised that it was October already.

She realised she needed help at the cottage with the log cutting, the gardening and other jobs that Harry used to do. She had two habitable rooms above the garage and worded the card in the newsagents carefully, offering free accommodation for 3 days outside work.

About a week later she saw a man pushing his bike slowly up her path. He was thin, his clothes were good but well  worn, and he had a  green rucksack on his back. Looking back later, she wondered that she had taken to him so quickly and so trustingly, but she had liked his name, which was Jacob. He had a quiet, calm manner and his blue eyed gaze was steady.

He moved into the rooms right away – propping his bike in the garage. She asked no questions about his past  and soon they developed an easy, almost silent way of getting on with their lives. There was no need for her to read to him from her list of work needing to be done – he knew. He pruned the apple trees, raked the leaves, cut the logs and all the other late season jobs got quietly done.

Jacob had arrived with very few possessions, but surprisingly, one of them was a violin. When she walked in her garden in the dusk, she could hear him playing and could see him with the instrument tucked under his chin. The music like a sad voice, rising and falling, was strange and unfamiliar. It seemed so personal that she didn’t mention it; listening almost felt like trespass.

Sometimes he was away for two or three days, he did not say where and she found that she missed seeing the light on above the garage in the evenings. If he was around in the afternoon, she would make him a mug of tea, and they would stand looking at the garden and exchange a few words.

She asked him to share her Christmas meal – and he came with a bottle of blackberry wine and a wreath he had made of holly. Together they hung it on the front door. They now felt completely comfortable in each other’s company and after the meal, he took up his violin and played some old carols.

After Christmas they went back to their quiet companionship. Jacob worked in the garden and Lynn was nearing the end of her novel.  

Towards the end of February the novel was finished and was ready to send to the publishers. One day, Lynn saw Jacob ride down the path on his bicycle, his rucksack on his back. She somehow knew that he was leaving, and felt a stab of loss. His quiet calm had helped her come alive again. She waited a couple of days and then went over to rooms above the garage. All was tidy and clean. He had gone – as quietly and secretly as he had arrived.

That spring her orchard was full of daffodils  – where there had never been any before. It was Jacob’s way of saying goodbye, and she smiled.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply

Cranleigh Magazine