The Farm on the Heath (A short story)

The Farm on the Heath (A short story)

The heath had changed had colour, from a fiercely deep purple to weathered, wet grey.  

The heathers buffeted in the bleak wind, emblems of the strength of this land. 

The rain, cold and light, travelled westwards, like a moving curtain, closed and frigid, it’s mission never complete.  It put to ground the leaves that the wind stole from the trees; laid them there to rot and recreate in the spring.  

Further over the hillside, a muddy track lay from a solitary farm, three miles long, in a straight line to the road that led to the village.  

A young boy, no more than ten years old, and a sheep dog walked east along it, in the direction of the farm buildings.  Despite the weather, he was dressed in shorts and hobnail boots (no socks) and a flappy, thin jacket with a large flat cap that hid his hair.  He carried a long stick as a walking aide in his left hand, taller than he himself.  It clacked as its end met the suffering lane in time with his gait.  

Clack. Clack. Clack.  

Both fought against the lashes that the scolding wind threw against them, soaking their skin to the bone. The dog’s black and white fur lay in spiky clumps as he followed the boy willingly and diligently, his soulful brown eyes blinking against the elements.  

Clack, clack, clack.  

Finally, they met the gate of the farm.  It’s metal latch clanged loudly as the boy freed the catch, and it creaked open.  As it swung away, the rain suddenly stopped.  

A dark angry cloud lay in the atmosphere above.  It looked comfortable and averse to moving on, like a tired soldier climbing out of bed.  The sun pushed it gently towards its new destination.  A rainbow began to emerge.  The scent of the countryside rose up from the wet ground, clean and fresh, like new hay. 

The boy plonked through a puddle, carrying the stick above his head. The sensible dog padded around it.  An open- sided barn stood to their right, and old tractor and ancient farm machinery was left to rust under the slanted corrugated roof.  

The house lay straight ahead, it’s brick work dark from the storm.  A decrepit wooden door, with a brass fox-head knocker, was open, inviting all and sundry.  

The dog suddenly ran ahead and entered first, stopping briefly to shake itself dry, droplets flying over the threshold. 

The boy trailed after, no doubt relieved to find warmth and shelter.  He removed neither his boots or coat; he simply walked down the hallway and disappeared, out of sight, the dog already gone.  

The house had crumbled decades before, the only remaining part being the front side.  Parts of other walls behind stood with jagged tops.  Rooms bare to the extraneous outdoor life, different shades of wall paper, some floors still evident, but falling away, brick by brick.  It was like a cross section of a dolls-house.  No visitors ever came.  Everyone was too frightened.

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