Travel Fills the Empty Heart

Caroline looked out of the window of the old farmhouse. She lived so far away from her nearest neighbors that she always felt such an emptiness in her heart and in her life. The loneliness of seeming to be the only person in the world robbed her of the joy of looking at the beauty right before her eyes.

Elena Ferrante got it right in The Days of Abandonment, “The circle of an empty day is brutal and at night it tightens around your neck like a noose.” Loneliness feels like dying, for it entombs in a darkness so deep that light seems incapable of penetrating it.

She could move, yes, she could! But, she had promised Aunt Sadie that she would keep the old homestead filled with her presence, even if it meant living alone. Aunt Sadie, who never married, had given Caroline a home when no one else would.

They had shared fun afternoons with peach coffee and hazelnut tea for Caroline. Games and puzzles filled their mornings and afternoons, and in the evenings, they sat by the fire reading books with glorious scenes of places filled with people with full lives. Often, Caroline voiced her dreams of visiting these places and mingling among the people, enjoying friendships, falling in love, and sharing three-hour dinners of good food, good conversations, and good wine.

But, Aunt Sadie always discouraged such notions, declaring that being alone was better, for then no one could hurt you and steal your joy. She had made Caroline promise her that when she died, Caroline would remember the warnings against allowing others into her life and heart and would not do anything silly like trying to make her dreams come true.

She was trying so hard to keep her promise, but the darkness was closing in, and she realized that, unlike Aunt Sadie, she was willing to risk losing her heart a few times to find a lasting and durable love. As much as she appreciated the home that her aunt had provided, it and the memories of Aunt Sadie combined to turn the old farmhouse into a prison with a life sentence. As she laid in her bed that night, Caroline made a decision.

Several weeks later, she watched as the realtor placed the “Sold” sign in the front of the farmhouse. She had no regrets on selling it, and the proceeds were more than she would have ever guessed. She walked down to the cemetery for the last visit she would make in a while.

As she stood at Aunt Sadie’s grave, she said aloud, “Aunt Sadie, it’s time for me to leave this place, for my heart needs filling with joy, love, and laughter. I don’t know how you stood the emptiness for so long! But, I need people, the physical and emotional touch of other human beings. I appreciate so much all that we shared, but now I want more. I need to give and receive love.”

She reached into her purse, and as she fingered her passport, a smile came upon her face, as dreams of London, Rome, Madrid, Amsterdam, Ireland, Portugal, and other places danced in her head. She walked away in peace, for she understood that ultimately everyone must do what makes them happy.

Fictional story written for Tale Weaver #210 from Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie, February 14, 2019: Emptiness. Also for February Writing Prompts from Putting My Feet in the Dirt: Peach coffee and hazelnut tea. Fandango prompt is Durable.

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