Isaac was a farmer. He had always known he was. He had not known he was a husband or a father. When he became these things he was happy and scared at the same time. As he worked in the fields he prayed that God wouldn’t take away his family and that he would always keep them safe.
Isaac went into the hills every day, to tend the crops and the animals and the crumbling walls that separated them. If he felt everything was under his control he could be content enough to go walking in the meadows, among the butterflies that scattered and swirled when he disturbed the long grass. He caught butterflies, sometimes, pinning them to a board and writing the name of the species underneath. Some nights he would call his wife ‘butterfly’. He called his daughter ‘my little butterfly’, as he held her in his arms and swung her up off the ground.
He had let his wife decorate the house. She had moved around the furniture, and put Russian dolls on the mantelpiece. His daughter liked to take the dolls down and play with them, stacking and unstacking them, tapping her fingernails against their painted faces. Isaac thought of his family like the dolls; his daughter, then his wife, then himself, sheltering them both.
His wife also painted, and played the piano, and one afternoon she nailed tens of tiny mirrors to the walls of his house. When he looked in them he could see his face in every one. The light they reflected was harsh, and made the grass thin. When he was in the hills he could see his home from miles away, glittering like fine glass. As he walked back and drew closer he’d see his wife, sitting in the shade, and his daughter dancing in the lights.
TEXT by Sarah Christie + IMAGES by Elizabeth Stewart