Works in Progress
- Hannah's Land
- To Whisper to the Wind
- Losing Christopher
Hannah Wilde lay in her tent, her son Daniel at her breast. He was so content looking, with his belly full of her warm milk. His blonde hair, damp with sweat, clung to his forehead despite the April chill. As he rolled away from her, Hannah wiped the wetness from her nipple and retied the laces on the front of her dress. No matter how tightly she tied it, it always worked its way loose and her ample cleavage would show.
Daniel turned onto his stomach and pulled his legs under him, his little rump up in the air. Hannah waited silently for a moment to see if he was asleep for good. When he didn.t move, she lay back on her blankets, sure that this would be the only peace and quiet she would have until the last of her children were asleep tonight. The others knew that they had better find another place to play when their mama was trying to get the baby to nap. In a few minutes she would have to make her way to the main house and help Edna James start supper, but for now she could lay motionless, letting all the weariness in her bones just be.
The scent of the wet canvas tent filled the air. Hannah couldn.t even smell the pigpen, which always seemed to reek. She closed her eyes and listened to the misty rain drip.drip.drip, off the leaves of the trees, the edge of the roof, the fences, the tent itself. The mist had saturated everything as the pain had saturated her heart.
"Jed, why did it have to be this way? We had such plans." The words gripped her soul with the now familiar ache that she was sure would never go away. "Mid-April, the corn should have been planted already and we should have been puttin' up a cabin for our babies."
Hannah longed for the openness of her own place, like they had in Virginia, where their closest neighbor was five miles away. Hannah preferred it that way. She longed to tell Jed how she felt about being cooped up in the station, like a hen waiting for the Sunday supper call. She longed to have Jed wrap his bear-like arms around her and keep her warm at night the way he used to. She longed for the smell of him after he.d loved her. Hannah slipped her hand under her pillow and pulled out the sleeve of Jed.s best shirt and held it to her cheek. It still smelled of him. Wiping her tears with it, she held it close.
Kevin’s head snapped up so fast Rachel wondered if he had hurt himself. He just stared at her as her heart pounded in her chest.
Was he going to ask her to leave? He had every right to, but she didn’t think so. She saw the softening in his eyes, the exhaled breath, as if he had held it for just a moment to steady himself.
“You’re the last person I expected to see standing in my living room today.” His words were soft and full of awe.
Rachel smiled. “I’ll bet.”
They just stood there, looking at each other, trying to reconcile past memories with the present.
“Why now, Rachel? You’ve been home for a week, why now?”
What should she say, should she be honest and say I wrote a book about the hell we went through and a friend of a friend wants to publish it, but I wanted your permission? Or should she say, I’ve wondered if you’ve thought about me all these years, and if by chance you’ve forgiven me? Or should she say, I had to see you so that I can move on with my life and have a relationship that doesn’t end in disaster. Instead she chose the coward’s way out.
“It was getting too hard to avoid you; Traynor isn’t exactly a big city.”
“Not like L.A.” Kevin paused and shrugged. “Traynor isn’t exactly a big city.”
Rachel had known that he knew where she was, just as she knew the major events in his life. Small towns were notorious for their gossip network, and Traynor was no exception. Her mom had informed her when Kevin’s brother had moved to Oklahoma City, and she knew when his mom had had a heart attack and lingered for a week before passing on. Rachel had heard the blow-by-blow account of how Dave wanted to sell the farm, but Kevin wouldn’t let him. Kevin had re-mortgaged the property to buy his brother out, but not without hard feelings, and now the two barely spoke.
“You look good, Rach.” Kevin’s gaze traveled up and down her body like the softest caress. “You look good, Rach.”
“Well, I’m twenty pounds heavier than when I left.” Rachel confessed, “And beginning to get crow’s feet, but you look exactly the same.”
“My hair’s thinning on top, and thanks to a suspicious looking mole, I now wear sun- block and long sleeves when I’m working the farm.”
They both laughed at all the old memories of both of their mothers telling them to wear sun-block during the summer, and them refusing, thinking that was such an old-folks thing to worry about, cancer. Of course that was before the insidiousness of that disease crept into their lives and destroyed it from the inside out.