Kaitlyn Woods, Grade 9, Box Hill High School
The cold soaked through the old woman’s bones, pulsing though her entire body. She wasn’t as young now, so whenever she came to see her husband it made her bones ached for days.
The sky was a beautiful orange as the sun pushed its final rays of light through the browning leaves of the trees. Autumn had always been her favourite season.
Age had crippled her body and left her legs and hips weak and her hair grey, but her eyes remained the same corn flower blue they’d been the day she was born. Her body was a cage that kept her spirit imprisoned, but her eyes showed all the hope and beauty that remained unscathed.
Leaves crunching underfoot, she made her way to her lost man’s grave. It was fifty-six years since the day she lost him in that terrible war that tore her world apart. After the Bombing of Darwin, it had taken them six weeks to find his body.
Reaching the headstone, she knelt slowly, arthritis wracking her joints. The shawl over her head did little to keep the chill from her face making her wrinkled skin cold to the touch. She leant upon her knees in the leaves so the dead and decaying forms were crushed into a sprinkle of lifeless grain.
She lay down the yellow coloured roses; they meant she was waiting for him. Maybe it was more accurate for him to be waiting for her. Either way, her heart ached to have him hold her, even more so that he was so close yet so far.
With shaking hands, her slim-boned fingers stroked the name on the grave. Closing her eyes, she let the gust of wind blow through her clothes and caress her face. She was cold, but it didn’t matter. Maybe it was him that called out to her through the wind, its cry eager with longing, or maybe she was too tired to bother sorting out what was real and what her mind made up.
She so very tired.
Looking to her left, from atop the hill where the grave was nestled, she let out a small sigh as the last pink and orange disappeared after the sun from the sky.
“Look, Charlie, darling, it’s beautiful,” she said, a smile creeping across her lips. Another brush of wind; it made her giggle, as if he was telling her he remembered, as if he said "almost as beautiful as you."
Her smile faded. The warm wetness of salty tears slid down her face and neck. The voice of the wind changed to that of a comforting urgency, but it only made her body heave, the tears coming faster.
Now the sky was dark and spotted with bright stars, so many it made her drowsy. Laying her head down on the ground above his chest, she fell into a deep slumber. She met him in her dream and they danced like they had the day they were married. They danced forever.