The empty, old house sat silent through the night, content with its current inhabitants.
The sunrise brought the wind, waking up the windmill. It started out slowly, a crooked paddle clicked on the frame.
“I love to move,” the wheel sang, clicking with rhythm, pleasantly at first.
“I can see so much farther than you.” It sang to the house. “Do you want to know what I see?” It didn’t wait for an answer. “They are building a new house on the hill to the east of us. The grass is getting green so I know the cows and the people will come back soon. It’s too bad they don’t fix you up, too. They could at least block your door so the cows don’t go in!”
The wind picked up and mill spun merrily in a building breeze, humming.
A bird lighted on one of the old house’s upper window sills, dribbling white down its side, making it look even more faded.
“At least birds don’t poop on me. If it weren’t for me, there would be no water around here. You never would have been built … our family never would have been able to live here. You know that, right?”
The windmill prattled on about its valuable contributions, most of them from the past. The house tuned it out, enjoying the warming sunshine.
“… and what about that time the bull chased Momma up my ladder? Whew, that was exciting! That mean old critter hit one of my legs so hard, he bent it. Pa built a fence around the house, after that. Remember how Momma built a short fence around my legs and called it the playpen, so she could have her babies outside with her. I loved watching those little ones play in the dirt.”
The old house sighed, windless days were few and far between. Mice and birds may be messy, but they were quiet. The wind hit a lull and it was silent for a while, but it never lasted long enough. Sometimes the days seemed endless with the old mill’s reminiscing. The sun was only midmorning.
“Do you remember the big ones’ names? When they first came, they had different names, but after the babies came, they were always just Momma and Pa, even to each other.”
“I’ve always envied you, you know. You got to be there for their meals, for the births … and the deaths. I could hear some things through the windows and the walls, but you got to see everything, even to watch them sleep. I loved that year they decorated me as their Christmas tree. They held hands and sang Christmas carols to me. It was wonderful.”
The wind died and silence settled back over the yard, everyone basked in the noon sunlight and good memories. Even the inhabitants, sheltered within the house, were content to be still. The house remembered, but did not comment on what a lean Christmas that particular one had been for the family. Yet, the folks had seemed happy enough.
“Remember when Billy climbed my ladder … and fell? There was nothing I could do.” The wind blasted and the wheel clacked crazily for a few minutes. The house wondered why that loose paddle didn’t fly off. Finally the wind let up and the mill became legible again.
The house groaned, as though the memory were weighted. A tiny creak cried from within. The afternoon sun calmed the wind to a gentle, quiet breeze. Again, silence spread over the small plot that had once been a place where children played.
There was to be one last draft that moved the old mill to speak. “Even though Billy died, those were the good old days. I never thought they would end.”
The sun began to set. The wind was dying and the windmill uttered its last thought for the day. “I wonder why they left ….”
The wind died to a whisper. The wheel slowed until even the occasional click stopped.
A remnant of white fluttered in the old house’s window for a moment; waving farewell to the sun, the day’s chattering reminiscence, and welcoming the quiet return of now.