Spread across his oak desk were all the correspondence he had with the townspeople, over forty years of praise, comments and greetings. Elton Blumfield relaxed into his recliner and read the last letter he had received, a week before from the Thomas couple on East Street. Their eldest son had just gone overseas in the Air Force, stationed in Korea for the next year, and they included an image of their family before he had left.
Forty years, where had the time gone? The town had bustled in that time, almost outgrowing its boundaries on two occasions. Elton had to annex more land for the new homes and businesses to settle.
The tiny town of Summerville unfolded in all directions from his home, a beautiful Victorian overlooking most of Main and Market from the gradual hill it lay upon. It was the home he and his wife had purchased, one that still reminded him of her each day.
Forty years, he wiped a tear from his eye. His neighbors, the Davidsons, were still close. Pat retired from his job at the school twenty years ago, and they were talking of moving to the Bahamas as their grandchildren had gone off to college. They were always there during the holidays in case he could not make it to his son’s due to weather.
Mandy Tidwell, the single mother who had three kids grow up through the ranks of his school, her house only stood out for how small it was.
The town was quiet this morning, the solemness that lingered since Elton decided it was time to retire from his position. The many homes and buildings would be someone else’s responsibility, and the townspeople would talk to the new mayor instead. Besides the years he lived with his wife, the love of being the executive of Summerville was his life.
A knock at his door broke the silence and brought him out of his memories. Right on time, he noted as he opened the door and ushered the young couple inside.
“Great to see you,” his grandson said, shaking his hand, while his wife offered a wrapped box. He accepted both and brought the package to his desk to open.
“So, this is the home of Summerville?” she asked.
“Just as detailed as I had said?” Elton’s grandson, Nathaniel, hugged his wife to his side while overlooking the village. The manicured lawns never grew, and the streets never pocked with potholes. The “lost” sign pinned to one of the telephone poles from years ago when one of the villagers lost a dog had yellowed.
“This is beautiful,” Elton remarked, holding up the miniature house.
“This is your guys’ place?”
“Yeah, Dad told me that you used to purchase a home for families and schoolkids who were part of your classes.” They watched as he brought their porcelain two-story abode to the constructed land built upon tables.
“Do you have a preferred plot?” A plot, Nathaniel noted. His grandfather truly held that Summerville was a real town.
“None of the ones near yours are available.”
“I apologize about that. I do not like changing people’s homes here, and once they’re placed, they remain forever.”
“Then that lot,” he pointed, “down the street from Dad’s.”
Elton gently placed the house on the model grass, ensuring that its corners were at perfect right angles. Nathaniel withdrew a small item from his pocket and handed it to his grandfather.
“He told you much about this,” Elton said with a grin, and took the small mailbox to his desk. He added its address to the box using a jeweler’s scope to see his work.
The two watched him plant the post into the ground near their driveway. “I’m glad, as my last day of being mayor, to have you two as part of our town.”
“You do know it’s not real?” Nathaniel’s wife asked.
“Charlene, please don’t be rude.”
“It’s all right,” he said with a smile. “Summerville may not be a real town, but to me it’s a thriving village. I can’t get around as well, and this is how I stay in contact with all those people who meant the most in my life.”
“So how did this all begin?”
“My wife purchased that house,” he said, pointing to his own, “a week before I had a heart attack. I was driving, and I hit another vehicle. She passed from her injuries, and I was very lucky.”
He wiped a tear from his cheek. “Close friends came by and noticed the house after the funeral, and each purchased their own to help me remember my beloved wife. My son helped me build a model city to set them up, so that I would have enough room to keep them without feeling like it was a museum here.”
Nathaniel hugged his grandfather as the latter nearly broke down. “I’ve treated this as my village, and it’s kept her alive in everyone’s hearts. I will miss it.”
“We have a spare room,” Nathaniel smiled, “that we’ll keep this in. I’ll make sure that it’s always dusted and I’ll send you pictures of it.”
They embraced, while Charlene investigated the rest of the houses. Nathaniel and Elton both watched her, still holding each other. The younger Blumfield understood just how deep the love ran for the fictional town, and knew it had to remain with someone who would take care of it.
“I have one more surprise, before we help you to the retirement center,” he said, going to his wife’s side. “We rented the party center for a dinner tonight. All of Summerville who could make it will be there.”
“I don’t know what to say . . .”
“I love you will be enough, Grandpa.”
He nearly broke down again, and managed a smile through years of wrinkles and experience in the features of his face. “I love you both.”
Nathaniel helped his grandfather into his coat, and watched as Elton gathered the letters into a messenger bag. The three left, to meet with the people who had mattered so much to one person, who had meant the world to all of them.
# # #
Copyright 2005-2015, @idebunkforme
This is one of my short stories that I never got back to editing properly, nor really sent out to any publishers. A cleaning up of old backups led me to a trove of these types of stories on my hard drive. I don’t know what I want to do with these stories.