Monday, November 10, 2014

Chapter 66


“That’s the last watermelon,” I told Sawyer as he stuffed the last bit of red fresh fruit into his mouth as we sat in the swing on the porch. 

“You sorry?” he asked. 

“Not really.  All good things must eventually end … or at least take a vacation.  We have one more cantaloupe in the frig that you can have tomorrow for dessert or in the morning with your breakfast.  Then there is all of the watermelon and cantaloupe jam, jelly, and pickles down in the basement.  Next year I’m going to have a garden for us so we can be more independent.” 

“You are?” 

I heard the grin in his voice so asked, “Are you making fun of me Sawyer Hartford?” 

He shook his head.  “Are you kidding?  I’m beginning to think there isn’t anything you can’t do and maybe God made you lame so the rest of us could keep up … oh crap.  Kay-Lee that didn’t come out right.” 

I leaned over and kissed his cheek.  “Yes it did.  You meant it as a compliment and I’ll take it as one.  Just because other people might hear it and not understand us doesn’t mean that I don’t.  You’re a special man Sawyer.  I don’t even think you know how special because I don’t know how to tell you and you give me special every single day.” 

“Wow.  What’s all this about?” 

“I don’t know.  I just … something is better between us.  Things were always better than I’ve ever had them but … but something has made the better even better.”  I shook my head.  “I know that doesn’t make any sense.” 

“Who cares if it doesn’t make sense.  If you feel like that then I’m all for it.  Wish I didn’t’ have to work.” 

“But you do.” 

“But you’ve promised me you’ll stay in the house as much as possible since they still haven’t caught Man Boob.” 

“Will you stop.  I was just shook up yesterday and my mouth kind of got away from me.  I wasn’t trying to be silly on purpose.” 

Sawyer chuckled.  “I really shouldn’t be laughing.  It could have been bad.  Just by the time Darla finished explaining it to me and to the other deputies that showed up behind me I thought we were all going to need hernia operations.  You do know who you hit in the man boob don’t you?” 

“Sawyer!” 

“Ok, ok.  Take it easy.  It was Big Cal Ferguson.  He was one of the guys that dog piled Cutter and destroyed his football potential.” 

“So I’ve heard.  Just about a million times.  And please tell Cutter to stop going around shouting Big Cal Man Boob like that.  It’s getting annoying … and embarrassing.  Beth doesn’t look too happy about it either.  Cutter shouldn’t gloat, it’s not appealing in the least.” 

“Don’t worry about what hot water Cutter gets into with Beth.  If he isn’t fire proof by now he’s just going to have to burn.  And I’m the only one you need to worry about finding appealing.  So …  speaking of hot water.” 

I winced.  “More tomatoes?” 

“’Fraid so,” he said while trying to keep the smile out of his voice.  “But I’ll try and make as many of these the green ones like you’re wanting.  And the cherry tomatoes so you can do those pickle things you want to also.  And I think I might be able to bring you a punch of yellow ones ‘cause they looked about ripe day before yesterday.  And before I forget, Aunt Suzanne wanted to know if she could have some of the canning pears.  Apparently the tree she had been expecting to get most of hers off of got hit by lightning and is dying faster than the fruit can ripen.” 

“Tell her and anyone else that wants some to come get them.  They’re as bad as the apples … not bad bad but … oh you know what I mean … numerous and hard to keep up with to keep them from wasting.  I wonder if you can juice pears.” 

“Some you can because Uncle Carl makes pear cider whenever there is a bumper crop but I don’t know if you can juice these that are coming in right now.  It might be you can juice them all, but they might not all give the same amount of juice.  A mix of varieties is better anyway.  Speaking of, I need to know how many gallon jugs we have around here.” 

“A … lot …,” I answered slowly.  “Sawyer … are … are we going to make ‘shine?”  I wasn’t sure whether I was joking when I asked him or not. 

Sawyer didn’t immediately deny it, or laugh at the idea, so I knew something was up.  “Kinda depends.  Have you bottled any juice up yet?” 

“You mean canned it?” 

“Yeah.” 

“No.  Well, I’ve made some with that juicer I got at the thrift store but I’ve been using that for canning other things and for cooking with.  I’ve mostly been doing other things with the apples because I thought we were supposed to do a big juice and cider kind of party the beginning of October.  Sort of a harvest festival slash delayed wedding reception kind of thing.” 

“Wellllll, plans might be changing.  I mean that’s what we normally do – the family harvest day in late September or early October – but Gramps said the signs and portends are for a hard winter and for lots of civil unrest and what not and he’d like to have the harvest day on Labor Day weekend instead.  I know that is this coming weekend and short notice and it has caught the family by surprise.  You should see the aunts.  And since …” 

A little out of patience for no good reason I said, “And since we have the wood stoves, the wood piles, and all of the outdoor space already wrecked up he thought we might as well have it here.” 

“Uh … I’m kinda getting the feeling …” 

Shaking my head apologetically I told him, “No.  No I’m sorry if it sounded like I was giving you an attitude.  And I don’t want to spoil our mood either.  I guess … oh never mind.” 

“You guess what?  C’mon, you know you can talk to me about this.  You listen to me complaining about the family some times.” 

“I’m not really complaining exactly … at least I hope I’m not, because I’m feeling too what Preacher Don calls blessed to have the right to complain.  It’s just that the others are always talking about their places but I’ve only been to exactly three of your family’s homes and one of them is ours.  This one, Burt and Delly’s, and then Gramp’s place because that’s where we’ve done some of the separating and sharing out of stuff.  It’s not like I want to go sticking my nose into their business but they talk like they go visiting with each other all the time and … and even Linda and Jeannie … even Beth …” 

“You feeling cooped up and tied down?” he asked with concern.  “I wish I had the time to take you out more, like to town or the movies or even to the discount mall again.” 

“Huh?  No!  It’s not like I’m hurting for things to do and we spend lots of time together at the end of the day.  And I don’t want to measure us by them either.  It’s just … how am I supposed to get to know them if I never have a chance to get to know them except on canning days.  It seems a lot longer but we’ve been married five months and I know that sort of thing takes time.  I know that a lot of them knew each other beforehand so I don’t want to butt into their existing friendships.  But I’ve never even been to any of the work days to help the others set their places up.  No wonder they all think I’m some kind of snobby know it all town girl with issues and …” 

“Whoa!  Did someone say something?!” 

“Not in those words and I don’t know if I can even explain it.  At school I was used to being the outsider.  I’m not even sure I would have trusted anyone that made out like I was anything else.  And there were a few who made sure us SLD kids stayed in our place … or what they thought was our place.  But then you come along and there was Linda and Tommy here and they cushioned the sudden changes … then Uncle James and Gramps … I felt so welcome … so a part of things.  Aunt Pearl and Aunt Suzanne have given me a big head over what all I’ve done to make sure the kitchen and pantry here is stocked and how we’re taking care of the orchard, vineyard, and all of the other little odds and ends we keep running into on the land.  But lately …” 

“Lately?  C’mon Kay-Lee, spit it out.” 

“Sawyer lately I feel like I’m back in school.  I’m working as hard as I can, playing catch up to keep up and there’s all these other things going on that I can sense that I’m not a part of but are just waiting around the corner to trip me up.  And most of the time I’m so busy it doesn’t matter or I don’t feel like I need to worry about it but then there are days like today …” 

“What about today sparked it?” 

I sighed.  “I don’t know exactly.  I guess … I guess maybe … Sawyer?  Are you ever … are you ever scared?” 

Slowly he admitted, “Sometimes.  There are a lot of things to finish up and … and some days I feel like I’m running out of time.” 

“Yes!”  I felt my cheeks turning read because I’d shouted and Sawyer had almost jumped in surprise.  “Oh brother.  See what I mean?  Sometimes I just feel like … like I don’t know how to do this family thing and that I’m supposed to be helping with this huge deal.  Some days I feel like I’m doing better than treading water … that I’m making headway to safety even if the water is deep.  But then other days … other days I feel like I’m barely treading water and getting tired and there’s a storm on the horizon and the water is so dark and murky it’s like not only is there a storm but there is something with sharp teeth swimming just below me waiting … waiting for me to fall back from the others … get tired and stop moving.  I know if all of us swimming can just stick together we’ll help each other stay afloat and the monsters won’t get us.  But then … but then sometimes it feels like I’m being left behind and I don’t know, sometimes it feels like I’m getting left behind on purpose.  And yes, I know how pathetic that sounds but you asked how I felt.” 

Sawyer scooted to the center of the swing and then pulled me into his lap.  “I’m sorry Kay-Lee.  I didn’t know you were feeling so bad.” 

“It’s not all the time.  It’s not even most of the time.  Just lately … lately I feel … something.  Like there is something out there that’s gonna get us, separate us and pick us off one by one.  I’ve never … I’ve never had what I have now … and I don’t mean the house so much as what we have, the two of us.  And I know I’ve only had it for five months but … oh Sawyer …” 

“Hey … shhhhh … it’s gonna be ok.” 

“I wish I could believe that.  And I guess if I didn’t most of the time I wouldn’t be working so hard.  But Sawyer, look at how I was born.  Look at how much pain and misery just a couple of people created.  Not just for me but for lots of people.  No one expected it to happen and look how bad it was.  How much bigger and badder can it be with us expecting it?” 

Sawyer was quiet for a while and then told me, “I can’t promise bad things aren’t coming.  I can’t promise bad things won’t happen to us.  What I can promise you is the same thing I promised five months ago, to work my hardest to make sure the bad things have as little chance of getting us as possible and if they do get us that they hurt as little as possible.” 

“Oh Sawyer.  Me too.  And I’m sorry.  I know it isn’t your fault.  You’ve made things so much better that if someone had told me what my life was going to be by coming up to the ridge I would have thought they were so crazy there wouldn’t have been words for it.  I don’t want to lose this.” 

“Well if this means me then there’s no chance of that.  Not that I’ve ever thought about it but after I saw what a mess Lisa was when her house burnt down … she has no backbone.  She’s worse than even the most complainingist of the new wives.  If we had stayed together all I would have been doing is digging my whole deeper.  The thing is I never saw it … that … that …” 

“Fatal flaw.” 

“Huh?” 

“On that documentary we were watching the other night, the one about people who snapped.  Several times they pointed out that the men and women had what they called a fatal flaw in their character and that some of them hadn’t snapped so much as that that flaw had been uncovered and revealed.” 

“Yeah.  Ok.  Maybe.  But it sure does make you think.  Even looking at the family I can tell some of them aren’t taking this as seriously as they should.  For some it is almost like one of those role play fantasy games.  They can put it on and take it off at will.  But this needs to be a lifestyle, not a hobby.” 

“Gramps been talking again?” 

Sawyer sighed.  “Yeah, him and Uncle Forrester, Uncle James, a bunch of ‘em.  I don’t know if they – and me for that matter – are feeding on each other’s worries or if we’re really feeling an increase in the influence of the Dark Side.” 

“Excuse me?” 

“Some of us, to blow off steam, have taken to calling the feelings we are getting the ‘Dark Side’ … like Star Wars stuff.” 

“Uh … never saw it.” 

Sawyer just looked at me and then said, “What the hell?  You never saw Star Wars?!” 

“No.  It isn’t that big of a deal.” 

“Oh my gawd woman.  Well I know what we are doing … starting tonight.  I know I have them in my DVDs just gotta remember where I stuck them.” 

“Your old collection is in a box under our bed.” 

“C’mon … popcorn time.” 

He threw me over his shoulder and was carrying me in the house.  “Put me down!  What kind of Neanderthal fit is this?!” 

“A righteous one.  Everyone has to see Star Wars at least once before the world ends.” 

“You’re nuts!!” 

But we were both laughing and the scary monsters stayed under the bed and in the closest because the light we made was too bright for them.

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