Ruth laid with her eyes closed, listening to the creaks and groans of her old house. An old house for an old lady. It was the house she had grown up in, the house in which she had raised her family, the house in which she had said goodbye to her husband. And the house in which she would most likely spend her last days, tottering about, listening to the hustle and bustle of the world as it hurried by. Oh, what these walls would whisper if they could talk. Ruth shivered, whether from the history that filled the inside of her house or the cold the crept from the outside, she couldn’t tell.
She took a deep breath and sighed, a cloud of vapor puffing from her creased lips. She pulled the rough woolen blanket around her frail frame and burrowed deeper into the pallet mattress beneath her. It was still early, too early to get out of bed. And too cold. Even a fire in her small hearth would be no match for the frost outside. Opening one eye she peered across the room and could just make out the rust-colored embers that remained in the fireplace. She closed her eyes again and smiled with relief. Ruth could manage to get her fire burning again, once she got up, and take the chill of this winter morning, as long as she had something to start with. She was grateful that Matthew had brought more wood for her fire yesterday. Such a good boy, that Matthew.
Ruth turned in her bed and felt the familiar ache in her left hip. She winced. What a gift it would be to be young again, she thought To jump out of bed and scurry about the house, putting her home in order. All without pain. On this particular winter morning, she longed to return to an easier time. A happier time. A time less lonely. A familiar scene began to take shape, flitting behind Ruth’s eyelids as she remembered back sixty years, a moment from her childhood. Another brittle midwinter’s morning etched in her memories.