Love On the Farm | By: Dallas Releford | | Category: Short Story - Love Bookmark and Share

Love On the Farm

I FOUND LOVE DOWN ON THE FARM And, a lot of trouble that I didn’t expect. By: Dallas G. Releford Originally published in True Confessions Magazine 2002 “What’s wrong?” my mother asked, her face showed signs of worry, concern, and apprehension. My Dad plopped down on the couch and sat there. His face was as pallid as the blank sheet of paper on the desk in front of me. I was seventeen. My name is Ellen Colby. My parents are, Marie and John Colby. I’m the youngest of three sisters. Renee and Sandy are both married and live out of town. Ignoring the term paper I was supposed to be writing for history class, I turned my attention to my Dad. Something was clearly wrong. I love my parents; when they hurt, it hurts me too. “What’s wrong, Daddy?” I asked noticing the tears in his eyes. I was alarmed. I’d never seen my Dad cry. The pain he was suffering showed in his steel gray eyes and in the wrinkles on his forehead. He was a tough man. He’d survived in Vietnam and Desert Storm. Amazingly, he’d lived to tell about it. Dazed, I sat there waiting for an answer that I thought would never come. “Another company bought the business,” he muttered avoiding our eyes as he gazed intently at the floor. “They’re outsourcing most of the work to other countries.” “You mean; you lost your job?” Marie asked nervously, not sure she understood what he was saying. The implications of such a thing had already brought the first rumblings of complete shock to her system sending her troubled mind into refutation. “That’s it,” he replied. “I don’t know what we’re going to do now. There aren’t too many jobs around to be had.” I’ll never forget that day; it’s permanently burned into my memory, stored in some corner of my mind where it occasionally comes back to haunt me. It was the beginning of a traumatic experience for me that affected my entire life. I promised him I’d find a job and help. He smiled wearily and thanked me. As the days fleetingly passed, along with our bank account, my father searched for work and found none. My mother went to work in a laundry. The work was hard, grueling and she came home exhausted every night. I guess it was about three weeks after my mom got a job that I started work at a fast food restaurant down the street from where we lived. Mr. Burns, the manager said I could work after school four hours a day and on weekends. It wasn’t much, but it was income, and my first real job. I’m not sure how I felt at that time. My memories are somewhat clouded, but I do remember that I missed seeing my friends, shopping with my mother and doing the other things that most teenage girls do during their young years. I was mature for my age and that helped me to cope with some things, but nothing could prepare me for many events that happened a little later. I’d made up my mind a few days after my father was laid off, that I was going to have to grow up fast. It wasn’t something I wanted to do; it was something I had to do. ♦ Even at that young age, I slowly realized that life is a chain of events with each event a link in the chain. Each link leads to something else, until we die. Even that event has repercussions. That realization wasn’t much gratification to me though, it felt more like a noose was slowly tightening around my neck. The event that caused me great despair occurred a few days after my mom got a job. My father left us. The note on the kitchen table simply said he couldn’t take it anymore. I loved my father and I never hated him for it. We never heard from him again. That was the saddest part. Almost two months after my father left, I came home from work one night and found my mother on the couch in the living room. She was dead. Another link in the chain that was sending me to the farm. ♦ The funeral was on Monday. It was raining, foggy and cool. My sisters attended the funeral, and I was happy to see them. They were family. That was about all I had now. Several of my mother’s people and my father’s family were there too. I was too worried about losing my father and my mother to think about what I was going to do. I had to face it though, but before I could really begin to worry, my Aunt Maureen confronted me about it, and provided me with an answer. Having many of my mother’s features, my Aunt Maureen was a strikingly, beautiful woman. Her dark hair fell to her shoulders, her bright blue eyes charmed me with their constant glow and her figure was the envy of most every woman who saw her. I was amazed to realize that I looked a lot like her; only a little younger. She was forty-one. I remember my mother telling me that a few short weeks before she passed away. Aunt Maureen didn’t look a day over twenty-five. Her husband’s name was Raymond Peters, and I never trusted him for some reason. He was a big man, masculine, well suited for farm work, his eyes a deep blue beneath his light, short cut brown hair. Handsome, he mesmerized most women with those eyes. His eyes were too aggressive, too penetrating and his hands seemed to find my butt every time he hugged me, even in public. I slapped him once, right in front of Maureen, but she didn’t say anything, and he just laughed. I guess they both thought it was a joke, but it wasn’t funny to me. Nope, I never trusted him, and still don’t. “You’ll love living with us, Ellen,” Maureen said as we stood there in the cemetery after the funeral, watching the last of the family leave. It was still raining, and my Uncle Raymond held an umbrella over my head. “You and Trina will get along fine. You’ll love it on the farm; won’t she Raymond?” He shook his head and smiled. “Yes, there’s lots to do, and you’ll love going to school in a small town. Trina will show you around.” Trina was their daughter and she was about the same age as me. That was how my life on the farm began. It took over a week to sell the house, pay the outstanding bills and tie up all the loose ends. I got to know Trina a little better during that time. She seemed withdrawn, timid, shy, and she seemed to have something on her mind. Something terrible was bothering her. I figured she was just dealing with growing up, like me, and I left it at that. ♦ Their thirty-acre farm was in Kentucky, just south of Lexington near a small town called, Hustonville. It was beautiful there, horse country and the bluegrass wasn’t far away. No, I wasn’t interested in sex, love, marriage or any of those things the day I began my new life in the country, but that was before I met Greg Anderson. Greg worked for my Uncle Raymond. My Uncle Raymond owned a large farm, and they weren’t wealthy, but they were; comfortable. Growing tobacco, corn, pickles, and crops like that, provided him with an adequate income. I didn’t meet Greg on the farm though. I met him at the high school. It was late in May, school was still in session, and the crops hadn’t been planted yet. Greg did odd chores for my uncle when things were slow. During the week I’d been there, I never saw him. Hating and dreading the first day in a new school, I dragged myself out of bed, put on my clothes and caught the bus with Trina. Trina showed me my homeroom, the classrooms and introduced me to some of the students. Greg Anderson was one of those students. When I saw his light brown hair, his broad shoulders and tanned complexion, my heart throbbed, jumped, and I almost fainted. As I gazed into the deepest brown eyes I’ve ever seen, I knew I was in love. He always wore a yellow pencil behind his right ear. Somebody said that was his trademark or something. Don’t ask me why, because I don’t know anything about it. Sensing my instability, Trina tugged gently on my arm urging me to follow her, but I just couldn’t. Mesmerized by the man, I had to know more, to see more of him. “So, you work for my uncle, huh?” I asked shyly. “Raymond Peters? Yes. Are you his niece or something?” “Yes,” I stuttered, hoping he wouldn’t notice. I felt two feet tall. Greg Anderson towered above me by at least two inches. Staring at him as if he were a god, I finally managed to say, “I live with them.” “How come I haven’t seen you around?” “I’ve only been there a week.” “What’s your name?” He didn’t grin; his face was expressionless. He was totally rad, the coolest man I’d ever met. “Ellen. Ellen Colby,” I replied shyly shuffling my feet like I was dancing on hot coals. I felt stupid, a victim of something I had no control over. The desire to run became a likely option, but then, I’d never know if he liked me or not. Maybe I’d never know, but at least I’d tried. “Glad to meet you, Ellen,” he said, his face still expressionless. He was in command, in control, and I felt my heart pounding harder. I wanted to pounce on him right there, but I knew girls didn’t do those things. “Maybe we can get together, and talk sometimes?” I asked the question, but I didn’t believe that I had said what I said. “Maybe,” he replied. I didn’t see much hope in that answer, but I thought it was better than nothing at all. Before I could say anything else, the bell rang. Trina tugged at my arm again. “I have to go,” Greg said, “class is starting. Maybe you’ll be in one of my classes? Anyway, it’s nice to meet you, Allen.” “Ellen,” I corrected him as he walked into the classroom nearby. “Ellen Colby.” “Great,” Trina whispered. “Don’t get your hopes up, Ellen, he’s the heartthrob of every woman in the county. You’d have to stand in line just to get his autograph.” “I would do that,” I admitted convinced that he was the only man for me. “You’re setting yourself up for the big let down,” she replied as we walked to our homeroom. I didn’t listen. Love burns deeply, numbs the senses and the trees stand tall before you get to the forest. “What makes him so special?” I asked. I really wanted to know. Maybe what I saw in him, and what everyone else saw was different? “He’s handsome. He’s got lots of money, and he drives a new, forest green Corvette,” she told me. “Is that enough, or what?” “Wow … radical! Where does he get all his money?” I asked as we hurried toward the homeroom at the end of the hall. It was nearly time for the last bell and I didn’t want to be late on my first day. “Nobody knows. Daddy only pays him five dollars an hour and he doesn’t work forty hours a week. He does sometimes in the summer, but as a rule, it’s much less than that.” I saw him several times that week, and I was overjoyed to find out that I was in one of his classes, but I was disgusted, heartbroken and sad because he was always with some other girl. I never had a chance to talk to him, but that didn’t stop me from daydreaming, fantasizing and hoping. My mind became placated with thoughts of him, and little else. As part of their family, I was surprised to learn that I was expected to work on the farm when I wasn’t in school or studying. Farm work is hard, dirty and exhausting. I’m not afraid of work, but I can think of many other things I’d rather be doing. Trina and me were behind the barn on Saturday morning getting the garden ready for planting. We were making small mounds of dirt, in a row, for setting out tomato plants. It would be several weeks before we could do this, but we wanted to be ready. It was hot for May. “I think I’ll run back to the house and make us some lemonade,” Trina said suddenly dropping her hoe on the ground, rubbing the dirt on her hands off on her shorts. “Good idea,” I replied. I could drink a gallon of the cold stuff myself. My throat was parched, dry all the way down. I could taste the dirt. I kept working. “Sure is warm for spring; isn’t it?” a voice said behind me. I stopped. Turning around, I dropped my hoe as I realized that Uncle Raymond was standing there looking at me. How long had he been there? “Just a little,” I said. “I guess it’ll be hotter later on in the year.” “You know something; Ellen, you sure have a nice butt on you.” I was shocked. Nobody had ever said anything like that to me in my entire life. Angry, I tried to decide how to handle the situation. Trapped like an animal, I had to do something. He would continue to harass me for as long as I lived with them. Living with them was the only option I had. Uncle Raymond knew that. “Uncle Raymond,” I began, my voice quivering, my legs unsteady and something in my stomach didn’t want to stay there. “Let’s get some things straight. I’m not your little girl any more. I’m all grown up now. You did get two things right. I do have a cute ass; as you say, and it is mine. So, that means, you keep your hands and your eyes off me, and we’ll get along fine. Do you think we can work and live together by those rules?” I’m twenty-seven now and married, but I can tell you that when I think back to that day that I still can’t understand how I handled Uncle Raymond that way. I guess when you have to do something; you do it. Even now, just thinking about how he looked that day, gives me the creeps. I think Uncle Raymond was just an old man admiring a young woman because he apologized and walked sullenly away. He never bothered me again. He hadn’t harmed me and I respected him for that. I felt pride because of the way I’d handled the situation. It could have been worse; it could have been better. “Daddy wants us to go up to the south woods and see if we can find the milk cows when we’re done here,” Trina said. “Are they missing?” I asked wondering how you could lose something as big as a cow. Drinking heartedly from the glass of fresh, cold lemonade, I waited for her answer. “They find a way out of the pasture every now and then. You’ll like it in the woods though. It’s nice, quiet, peaceful, and cool. There’s something I want to show you.” “What do you want to show me?” I asked. Secrets were something that perturbed me, gnawed at my curious mind, and gave me no rest until I found out what they meant. “It’s a showing thing,” she said, and no matter how hard I tried, she wouldn’t divulge the secret. We finished the work in the garden about two in the afternoon. Washing up and changing clothes at the house, we hurried out the door toward the woods with a canteen full of lemonade in our hands. “We’ll be back later,” I yelled to Maureen, who was busy in the kitchen. “We’re off chasing cows.” ♦ It seemed that we walked a couple of miles up hills, down hills and through open fields, before we finally arrived at the woods. Trina took me by the hand and led me down a well-beaten path. She was right; it was cool, wet from a rain the previous night and eerie. “Stay close to me,” she said. “I’d never tell anyone what I’m about to tell you or show you. You must keep this a secret between the two of us.” “Agreed,” I promised. “You can count on me.” Nothing else was said. She released my hand. I followed her until we came to an open meadow. I could see a creek on the other side. It looked like a tobacco field; the plants were all green and looked healthy. Wondering why they would have a tobacco crop so far away from the house, I started to ask when Trina spoke. “This is what I wanted to show you,” Trina said staring at the field. I was puzzled. “What is it?” I asked. “You mean, you’re from the city … … and don’t know what that is?” “Uh, huh --- I guess so,” I stammered. “Pot,” she said. “Does that answer your question?” “Marijuana?” “Yes. I think my father is growing pot,” Trina said. “That’s been bothering me for a long time. It’s bad enough he grows tobacco. It kills thousands of people, but this stuff is even worse. The bad thing is that my father is supposed to be a Christian.” “How long have you known about this, Trina?” “Years.” “Oh, my God,” I said. “You’ve lived with that for so long. I’m sorry. Have you told your mother?” “No, I’m afraid that she will divorce my father, if she finds out. I don’t know what to do.” “I think the best thing to do for now is to find the cows and get out of here. Does your father ever come back here?” “I’ve never seen him. Maybe he has someone else tending the crop?” “Possible,” I agreed. “Let’s go. That must be worth over a million dollars. People kill over that kind of money.” She didn’t argue. We found the cows and hastily drove them back to the pasture. We didn’t bother looking for the break in the fence. We’d worry about that later. It was quiet around the kitchen table that night. Uncle Raymond didn’t say much and both Trina and I were lost in our own thoughts. Aunt Maureen was the only one who was trying to keep a conversation going with endless questions about what we’d done all day, what we would do tomorrow, and what we’d learned in school. I didn’t feel much like talking. After we’d helped her wash the dishes, we sat on the front porch in the white swing watching cars go by on the main road, about a mile away. I was astounded to see a forest green Corvette coming up the driveway. “Look who it is,” I said. “I don’t believe it,” Trina replied. “It’s Greg and he’s alone.” “Is that good?” I asked. “For you,” she said, “now’s your chance to talk to him. You better make every shot count before some girl comes riding over the hill on a white horse; naked.” Trina knew I liked Greg; she just didn’t know how much I liked him. We both laughed. He drove up in front of the house, near the porch. “Hi, girls,” he said. When he didn’t get out of the car, we got out of the swing, and walked over to where he was admiring the sleek, new Corvette. My mind, and my eyes were more on the man driving the car than it was on the car itself. “Thought you’d want to go for a ride, Ellen,” he said. My heart beat faster. Thinking it was going to jump out of my body, I sighed letting the air out in a steady stream. He actually remembered my name. If there was ever a time that I was going to faint, it was at that moment. Not believing what I was hearing, I stood there for a long time before saying anything. “Well … … does the silence mean that you will?” He looked at me and for the first time, he grinned. “Come on. I’ll show you the countryside, and maybe we’ll go get something to eat. I’ve got a little money.” “I’ll … I’ll have to tell Maureen,” I stammered. “Please wait until I come back.” Maureen was working in the living room. “Sure, it’s okay, but don’t be out too late. Work starts early around here.” What? Tomorrow was Sunday. I couldn’t visualize, imagine or believe we’d have to work on Sunday, but that was another problem for later. “I’ll be back early,” I told her, and rushed out to the car. He’d pushed the door open for me, and I hopped in. “Buckle your seatbelt,” he said, “we’re off for a joy ride.” I waved happily, victoriously at Trina as we drove away. He was wrong; we didn’t get anything to eat, and he didn’t show me the countryside. I also have my doubts about the joy ride. He did show me some other things though. One of the things he showed me was a quiet little glade beside the river off a quiet country road. It was secluded, desolate and the perfect place for lovers. I didn’t resist when he kissed me fully on the lips. He anticipated everything that I liked. Brushing his moist lips against mine, he teased me, making me want him more. His hands explored my breasts as his lips occupied my mind. When he massaged my buttocks, I knew I was his. We made love on the front of the Corvette, the sound of the gurgling brook in the background, the birds singing and his thrusts brought me to the highest point of ecstasy. It was my first time. What we’d done was against every principle I’d ever learned. I have to say that I never got over the guilt I felt about what happened that night. ♦ Trina kept prying. She wanted to know what happened, and why I’d been home by nine. I wouldn’t; couldn’t tell her. It was Sunday, and we were out in the back yard reading, and taking it easy. Even farmers rested on Sunday. “Something must have happened,” she said. “Did he invite you out on another date?” Pregnancy had entered my list of things to worry about. We’d done it without any protection. I knew little about such things then, but I learned. I wanted to change the subject. Thinking about what had happened was deluding me, making me crazy and it hurt. “No,” I answered, “maybe I’ll go out with him again, and maybe not. I don’t want to get tied down with one person.” “That’s reasonable,” she agreed. “Maybe I’ll go out with him.” I smiled at her. Uncle Raymond would kill him, if he touched her. Uncle Raymond and Aunt Maureen had gone to church. We’d decided to stay at home. We had things to talk about. It was getting dusky dark. We were still in the back yard lying in lawn chairs. Having sleeveless tops and shorts on didn’t give us much protection against the cool air that began to blow in from the north. We’d decided to go inside and watch television when a green Corvette pulled into the barnyard. It was Greg and another man. They didn’t see us because we were inside the screened in porch. Disembarking from the car, they walked away from the barn, toward the woods. We decided to follow. I’m not sure that was a mistake on our part or not, but it was very revealing. Five minutes later, we were on their trail like two bloodhounds. I probably don’t need to tell you where we ended up. They were standing near the crop of Marijuana. We hid behind some bushes, and listened. “I have to hand it to you Greg,” the man was saying. “You’ve raised another fine crop and it’ll make us both rich.” “Yeah, if the old man knew what I was growing on his property, he’d croak,” Greg said. “So, you plugged his niece, huh? I bet he’d kill you if he knew about that.” “He’ll never know. Raymond would probably like to do it himself. He’s a horny old toad for his age. You’d never believe the women he’s been to bed with. Maureen, his wife doesn’t care as long as he brings in the money. I have a funny feeling she messes around too.” “That so?” “Yes, that’s what I’ve heard.” “Well, not my business,” the man replied. “When can we cut this stuff? Can we harvest it yet? How’d you get it to grow so quickly this early in the year?” “I grew it under tobacco canvas. During the cold spells we had, the canvas protected it. We should be able to cut it in about a month.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Trina was sobbing. I knew some of her secrets, and she most definitely knew mine. The jerk had probably told everyone about the score he’d made. That score was me, and I was sore in more ways than one. “Let’s get out of here, before they see us,” I warned Trina. We mulled over the situation for days. The worst part was that I’d had to go to school, and face Greg Anderson. It was hard, keeping a straight face. He asked me out several times, but I declined. Everyone in school knew that I’d done it with him. The only consolation I had was that he’d had many other girls too. What did we do about Greg Anderson? After careful consideration, we told Aunt Maureen about the pot. She told Uncle Raymond. Uncle Raymond told the prosecuting attorney and soon, the DEA was involved. Greg Anderson denied everything. When he went to trial, I was there to testify against him, and so was Trina. Greg went to prison for a very long time. That’s the last I heard of him, and I wish I’d never even met him. Yep, I got pregnant. He gave me a part of him; a fine, little baby girl. I love the baby, but I don’t exactly love him any more. I learned that you can’t always trust someone because of the way they look, talk or act; whether they’re rich or poor. If they hurt you one time, they’re apt to do it again. Trina and I thought her father was growing pot, but he wasn’t. I did a lot of growing up, and finished college. Maureen kept the baby and took care of her. Elizabeth Ann was her name. I came home on weekends, and cried all week because I was away from Elizabeth, my baby. Despite the way my Uncle Raymond had acted toward me, he supported me in every way. Aunt Maureen never knew what we heard about her that night. We never told her. I think Greg was wrong about what he’d heard about her because I’ve never seen Aunt Maureen do anything wrong. As far as I can tell, Uncle Raymond, and Aunt Maureen are two people in love. As for me, well, I’m happy, but unhappy that my life was screwed up by a ten-minute encounter with my dream man. Maybe I’ll tell you more about what happened later, some other time, but for now, that’s the end of my ordeal on the farm. The End
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