At Home Abroad: A Short Story: A Wish for the New Year
By Regina Costello
The dawning sun peeked through the thin curtains and its rays roused Michael. He gingerly opened his eyes to greet a new day. Delighting in the warmth of his bed on this frosty New Year’s Eve, he stretched out his arms and legs and shifted his body awake.
Hearing the lowing cows asking to be milked prompted him to make a move. He did so and was soon ready to be on his way to take care of the Friesians. Silo, his sheepdog, aware of the morning routine, was chomping at the bit to get out!
“Hold on Silo!” Michael called out to him. “Stop jumping around! I’m coming!” Silo barked and danced and scratched a door already nicely distressed by him. He got his wish.
Silo ran around the fields like a mad thing while Michael got to work. When the milk truck pulled up, he was ready to load his supply.
“Nice day for it,” chatted the driver
“Sure is,” replied Michael.
“See you tomorrow, cheerio”, said the driver as he pulled away.
Michael took refuge in his routine on Holidays. His path in life transposed him into a solitary creature. Regardless of the day that was in it, chores and animals needed attention, and the farmer tended to both contentedly.
He whistled for Silo, who came to his side happily. Together they strolled back to the house for breakfast. The sheepdog greedily ate a feed of mashed potatoes and mushy stew left over from the dinner the night before and slurped noisily from his water bowl. Satisfied from his play and full belly, he settled on the worn armchair determined to have an uninterrupted sleep.
Finishing his tea and porridge, and about to head out the door into town for cattle feed, Michael heard a knock at the door. Shuffling to the front door, he creaked it open, as visitors were few and far between.
“Oh hello there! I hope I am not disturbing you. My name is Sarah, and I just moved into Dowling’s house up the road”, said the smiling stranger at the door.
“Eh, he hello” said Michael,hesitatingly, as he was a little perturbed by the visitor. Living a quiet life since his wife died ten years ago, his social skills were a little scratchy. Trying to think of something to say, he offered “Is there something I can do for you?” Noticing the kind, deep set green eyes that set the tone for her warm cheerful face, Michael started to relax.
“I hate to bother you, but my jalopy of a Fiesta has a flat tire and I have run out of medicine for my dog. She is in a lot of pain, and I really want to get it for her at the pharmacy. Can you help me?”
Having a huge love for his own dog, Michael grabbed his keys and shut the front door. “I’m heading into town now actually; I’ll gladly pick it up.” They exchanged information and Michael climbed into his tractor, cranked up the engine and slowly made his way down the lane.
Sarah stared after him in disbelief. “Well, that’s something new!” she said to herself, smiling as she made her way home. She was both relieved and happy that she found a good neighbor with a kind heart, even if he was a little unorthodox.
Good as his word, Michael stopped at Sarah’s house upon his return from town. He found her cluck clucking as she traipsed around feeding the chickens.
Dropping the pail, she quickly fixed her hair and adjusted her coat as his tractor grumbled towards her. She thanked Michael for his unhesitating kindness as he handed her the medicine. “No bother at all, glad I could help,” replied Michael. “I hope your dog has a better day,”, he said.
Sarah replied, “She will now, because of you!”
Michael’s face broke into a shy, tender smile. Sarah saw the kindest, gentlest expression and knew exactly what he was about. The Quiet Man, living alone and simply, who loved dogs, drove a tractor for a car and ever at the ready to lend to hand. No frills, no complications; a kind heart.
Parting ways, they both got on with their day. Unbeknownst to each other, both minds were preoccupied with thoughts of the other. Each had a curiosity about the other’s story and circumstance; both eager to make a connection.
They each knew the value of good neighbors and sincere friendships and hoped they would find both – with one hoping for more – in one another. As dusk fell and Michael hit the sack, his thoughts as usual were consumed with the day to come.
He looked forward to what it would bring, and like Silo, loved his routine of the daily milk truck visit, taking care of his cows, and all his rudimentary tasks.
Reminiscing about his day and his encounter with Sarah brought back precious memories of his late wife, Sheila. He knew he would never love another. He made a wish for the New Year of finding a good friend and a sincere friendship in his new neighbor, and that Sarah would wish the same. In his mind he recited Patrick Kavanagh’s Love – The Key to lull himself to sleep with sweet thoughts of his beloved Sheila:
And then like an angel she came;
I ceased to rove;
In her heart was a pure white flame|
And she was love.
*A postgraduate from the National University of Ireland, Regina’s interests include Irish history, libraries/museums and freelance writing. She works at the Buckeye branch of the Medina Public Library District; serves as Director on the Boards of the Mayo Society of Greater Cleveland and The Irish American Charitable Foundation. She and her husband enjoy their family of two spirited teenagers and beloved wheaten terrier and loves to hear from readers at rc*******@am*******.net