The room consisted of a wooden chair, and a faded green rug near the rock fireplace. The fire blazed merrily, little sparks here and there dancing among the embers. The glowing light brightened the small room considerably.
An old woman was in an old wooden rocking chair with a comfy but worn afghan covering her lap near the fire. Her old wrinkled hands were outstretched toward the fire seeking additional warmth.
The stranger shut the door behind him loudly, and put his wide brimmed black hat on a peg near the door. He strode in wide strides to where the old woman sat.
She didn’t seem to notice his presence. She had some knitting materials at her side, kind of a haphazard jumble of green and brown yarn. The man stood a little to the right of her chair as she rocked it gently and evenly; the wood making a sharp creaking sound.
“Old mother. I have come home at last. Do you know why?” The man said leaning toward her ear. His black eyes flashed with a cruel intensity, the fire making him appear devilish.
The old woman didn’t turn her head, but calmly said, “Of course. You have come to finish what you started years ago. You have come to kill me.” She didn’t stop knitting, only hesitating over a cumbersome knot as a hint of annoyance briefly crossed her face.
The man’s expression changed little. Some of the glee had been stolen from his eyes by her calm and emotionless affirmation of his intentions. The old woman had done this sort of thing for most of his life, and the man felt somehow cheated of his victory over her.
“Old woman, that is so. Why don’t you put that knitting down?” The man’s tone had a bit of hurt pride and a mixture of impatience about it now. Somehow slaying the old woman while she was working her needle seemed fundamentally wrong to him, while the act of killing her did not.
“You are a grown man now, and left this house when merely a boy. I wasn’t even aware that you had gone that day, till you didn’t clamor and holler for food first thing,” the old woman said, her voice tired and hoarse. The man only grunted in response. He had a tool especially prepared for this day, and he had taken meticulous and proper care of it just for this moment.
He pulled out a slender blade, a small sword or a large knife, when a gun would have done as well. He wanted to use a blade for a reason however. He wanted to see the look of pain on her face. He wanted to feel the blood when the metal cut through the corpse-like body of the old woman.
“It is your time, old mother.” The man said quietly in anticipation. The old woman continued working, looking toward the fire. If she heard him she gave no sign.
The man took out his custom sword knife out of its sheath of oiled leather, admiring the gleam of freshly sharpened metal as it gleamed from the firelight.
He placed it against her throat, adding just a little bit of pressure. He smiled at the little line of blood he had caused. The old woman didn’t give him the satisfaction of a reaction, merely looked ahead toward the fire as before.
There was a loud knocking at the door in the next moment. It was very loud, and happened again. The man looked toward the door, and cursed under his breath.
“Old mother, tell them it is all right, and that you wish to visit another time,” The man hissed in her ear, moving the blade only a little ways from her throat so that she could speak proper.
“But, dear boy, that would be a lie. You would have me lie, when you know how much I despise liars.” Now it was the old woman who had a glint in her eye. The man was now at her mercy because she knew he wanted her dead, and that this call of hers wouldn’t give him much time to flee the scene.
However, she must know she was dead either way. Whatever love had once existed between these two creatures had died a long time ago, and neither could remember when it had existed.
“Little Joe, Maryann, by all means come on in. The tea is ready in the kitchen, and i have a fresh baked apple pie for you!” The old woman yelled with sudden strength. The man glared at her, and lifted the blade just as the couple opened the door and entered.
Maryann shut the door, while her husband exclaimed, “Sir, what do you think you are doing here? Leave my grandma alone.”
The man was taken by surprise by the face displaced before him. It was so much like the face of his brother. The one that the old mother had favored to a fault. He had hated him so much, almost as much as he had hated the old woman. He now found himself more sad than hateful. This visage was much younger than his brother would have been on this day. It was his brother Joe’s son, and he was wedded as well.
This made the man realize how much he had missed of life after he ran away from home. This made him hesitate. The old woman grabbed at his hand with renewed energy and took the slender and rather small sword from his shocked fingers.
The old woman didn’t hesitate but neatly drove the blade through his back while he faced the newcomers. He felt it and put his hand where the blood began to well, in yet more surprise and pain. The old woman calmly reached out for a nearby wooden cane and motioned for the couple to follow her into the kitchen where the tea and pie were waiting.
“Well, that Johnny was always a failure. Too bad though. He is ruining my green rug. He always did, so I guess that’s nothing new. Come on, why are you standing there like that? We can’t let him stop us from our visit. He has tried to kill me before. Well, sit down!” The old woman ordered with a happy smile, oblivious to the act she had just done.
Little Joe and Maryann reluctantly sat down at the table, both glancing nervously into the other room. “Grandma, don’t you think, we had best call the Doctor? Or something? There is a man bleeding to death in the other room.”
“So there is,” answered the old woman. “But then, you both saw him towering over me with that fool’s sword, don’t you? Well, it is nothing then. Here have some pie. I made it for you, especially.” The old woman dished out a slice for each one, and gave them each a cup of tea. The old woman looked at her apron in disgust. Well, laundry would be on her to do list for the next day, anyhow. She removed it carefully, and threw it into the sink.
“So, my dears, do you think your child is going to be a girl or a boy?”
Maryann remained pale, and knew not what to say. Little Joe answered, recovering a bit quicker from the shock. “Actually, we are still not sure; it is still a ways off after all. But, we were thinking if it is a boy, of naming him perhaps after my Uncle who disappeared. I wonder what happened to the poor fella.”
“Hmm. Hard to say. Runaways are a sad lot.” The old woman said sternly. “I think Joseph would be much better suited for a boy though, myself.”
Maryann finally managed to speak and trying to sound normal said,” Of course, it could be a girl, and then I am sure we can name it after you, Grandma Mathilda.”
Little Joe nodded, patting Maryann gently on the hand. It was then that another knock came at the door. It was also very loud. They all looked at each other, no one saying a word.