Chapter 1

A cold chill rippled through his old body and shook Sam awake. The old prospector yawned, chuckled to himself, and said out loud,

"My bones are havin' an earthquake! Dang that felt like a 7.2."

It had been that way a long time now.  The loneliness and isolation had finally forced him into talking to himself, and yes, now and again he even answered back. Oh heck, who was he kidding, he talked back and forth to himself all the time. Why he had a running dialogue going from the time he woke up until the time he went to bed.

"Flippin' stinkin’ potbelly stove never would keep this old dilapidated cabin warm through the whole night!" The old codger whispered, and in a louder voice came the reply,

"Well you stupid ol’ fart why didn’t you get up during the night and throw a few more logs in. You knew it was gettin’ low on fuel but you were too darn lazy to get your ol’ bones out of yer’ bed weren’t ya' ?!"

He did that a lot too. He’d ask a question in one tone of voice and then he’d answer himself in a different tone. Made it seem more like there were two people talking back and forth instead of just one crazy old coot.

But Sam didn’t really consider himself crazy, well not yet anyway. He figured he’d give it another year, then around next October when it really started getting cold, he figured he’d just go crazy then. Yup, next October, that was a good month for just goin’ right off the deep end.

But for right now, talking back an forth to himself was enough to keep him company, and it helped him remember better days when "she" was around.

He looked over at their picture hanging on the wall of the old log cabin, "Oh Mary, darlin’ do ya’ have any idea how much I still miss ya’, even after all these years?" But there was no answer.

Their love had been the kind of love that someone could have written a whole series of romance novels about. They met when they were in high school. She was 16 and he was 18. From the minute he had seen her, he knew she was his soul mate. This was the one woman in all the world that God had put on earth just for him. Unfortunately it took a little convincing to get Mary to see things the same way, but after two years of courting he finally got her before a priest for those "I do’s". They had lived by those "I do’s" for 52 wonderful years, but then Mary took ill and in three short months, she was gone. And when Mary went, Sam’s heart left too. Not the bodily organ that pumps blood through your body, but the heart that is the essence of a person’s will to live and prosper. It’s that miraculous something that just makes your whole body feel happy just to wake up each morning and see your beautiful wife there beside you. That special feeling was gone. When Mary died, Sam quit living too, he took to merely existing.

Maybe that was why he liked to talk back to himself and call himself things like, "old fart". That’s what Mary would call him in a whimsical way. She knew, that he knew, it was really a term of endearment.

Five years had come and gone since Mary had passed, but all the pain and the loneliness were still there. Not one little bit of that had gone. Where his heart once was, there was just an empty hole with nothing but memories.

Go to Chapter 2

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