Friday, August 1, 2014

Chapter 11

I hissed as the disinfectant made contact. "I'm sorry Teaghan. I know it smarts."

"Better than getting an infection. Last thing I want is to try and explain that. Just don't ... you know ... say anything about it. Bad enough that I know everyone else knows. I don't want them actually talking about it too."

He taped a piece of gauze on the painful spot and then patted my other side and said, "I won't. Plus you're being a good sport."

I snorted. "I'm not a cow. Stop patting my ... er ... rump roast."

He thought that was funny but kept the volume of his chuckles down. "I happen to like your rump roast."

He said a few other naughty, silly things and then pulled me close so that my ouch was facing up and my head was laying on his chest. "Tell me honestly Teaghan, how is the harvest going?"

I never understood why he always felt like he had to remind me to be honest. I always tried to be even without being asked to. "Better now that Josiah told that man Jenkins to stop trying to drag race the combine through the wheat field. He was leaving way too many skips and having to waste fuel going back over places he missed."

Sloan had one arm holding me and the other behind his head. "Yeah ... Josiah is coming into his own which is surprising. He's pretty much been a wash out on the sites and Dan thought he was going to have to let him go even though honest labor can be hard to find; but he's doing so well here on the farm that I'm thinking about moving him to work here permanently."

I nodded. "The cows like him."

"Yeah they do ... even that nasty tempered one. She comes when he calls, did you know that?"

I nodded again. "I saw. And he knows about the blowers in the silos. I thought I'd have to explain all that and was waiting for people to get aggravated with me when they found out that they couldn't just harvest the grains and take it straight to town."

"Hmmm ... even I know that Sweetheart. What about you? I saw a lot of fruit get put into the cooler and freezer today."

"And I hope you get to see a lot put on the drying trays tomorrow. But the big things are the potatoes. We gotta get them dug."

"That's being taken care of tomorrow ... and we'll take a truck of those and of the turnip greens to market on Saturday and get Burdock off our backs."

"Well, if you want to sweeten him up, take him a couple of pints of gooseberries ... or better yet let me make him a gooseberry pie."

"I'm getting the feeling you may not verbally be a sweet talker but you can sure sweet talk with those pies of yours. I watched Herndon and Monteverde stop in the middle of a brawl when they saw you coming with a pie today."

I shrugged but grinned at the same time since he couldn't see me. He could feel me however. "Hah! I knew it."

I giggled and said, "Peach pie ... to the rescue."

His chest bumped up and down with a silent chuckle and then his hands got busy and I learned there was more than one way to arrange things. Afterwards I could sense he was feeling serious. "Teaghan ... look ... I'm trying ... just hang on and we'll get it."

Confused I asked, "Get what?"

I could feel Sloan get still and I thought I'd done something stupid again, especially when he asked, "Teaghan how long did you go to school?"

"Until May ... Dad said I was old enough to graduate but if I wanted to keep learning he'd keep buying me books."

"Buying your books? You mean were homeschooled?"

"Yeah ... but don't get the wrong idea. I know a lot of people think homeschoolers are weird and aren't really educated but I passed the exam every quarter just like the law said I had to."

"Ok, let me rephrase it then ... cause I know homeschoolers aren't weird, one of my cousins and his wife homeschool their kids. What I meant was how long did you go to a school in a building?"

"Oh. When I was in second grade they closed the consolidated school out here. Dad was friends with some of the Mennonites that used to farm along Winding Creek Road so I was allowed to go to their school until fourth grade if I followed the dress code. But then they all picked up and moved to a new area. Hannah graduated that year too and Dad and Mom neither one liked the idea of me riding the bus into town by myself. So homeschool it was." After a moment I asked, "Why?"

"Because you're ... you're ..."

"I'm what?"

"You don't seem to ... uh ... know things like most young women do."

Understanding what he was referring to I told him, "I think we've already talked about this the first time. I'm not stupid about the facts of life 'cause I know that's what you have to be talking about."

"I am ... but I'm also talking about ... let's call it sophistication."

"You mean you think I'm backwards because I don't act like I used to see Hannah and her friends act."

"Not backwards exactly. I'm just used to ... er ..."

"Well go 'er' someplace else," I told him pushing away from him.

"No. And settle down ... I don't want to 'er' someplace else ... or with anyone else. But ..."

"But what?"

"A little more ... enthusiasm on your part would be nice."

I thought about it a moment and said, "You're talking about popping corsets and heaving boosoms."

"Wha ...?" He gave another chuckle. "Don't tell me, let me guess. Hannah's books?"

"Yeah, there was this one that said ..."

"No. No don't even try to explain. Tell you what, we'll just keep working on it."

"I thought that was what we were doing already?"

He groaned and said, "Go to sleep Teaghan."

"I'm not the one that brought it up."

He groaned again and said, "No ... but you're not helping now go to sleep."

He did pretty quickly but I was left awake to wonder why men, and Sloan in particular, insisted on being such a puzzle. Especially since they seemed to do it on purpose.


The next couple of days were really busy. I canned all the soft fruit that wouldn't fit in the freezer and then had to can most of the beef in the freezer to make room for more fruit. I pitted, canned, and dried cherries until I wasn't sure I wanted to see another one for a good long while. I pickled eggs because Sloan seemed to like them and I did the same with some sausages. He was talking about going off for a couple of days to see a potential new reclamation site so I made sure to put some of them in pint jars so he could take them along. The potatoes got dug and the ones that were kept got put in mesh bags and stored in the root cellar ... at least the ones I didn't can or dry did.

The boys did try and antagonize me a few times but not when anyone else was around. Treating them like nothing they said phased me infuriated them. I had a feeling they were plotting but Sloan didn't leave them much energy to do it with because he kept them busy before sun up until supper time and sometimes past that bringing boxes into the house and finding places for them.

The night before market Sloan came in to find me unboxing some of his stuff in the office. "What are you looking for?"

"Nothing," I told him. "Unless you count space on the shelves for your books and things."

"You don't need to ... look Teaghan, I'll take care of it."

"If you don't want me touching your stuff just say so but unless that's the problem then there isn't a problem. You're gonna unpack eventually, eventually might as well be now. Well ... unless you don't want to unpack. Is that it? Is that why you're leaving all of your stuff in boxes?"

Instead of answering me he asked a bizarre question. "If you could wish it back to the way it was would you?"

"I can't so I don't think about it."

"Pretend for just once you weren't practical down to your toenails. Would you wish things back the way they were."

It was an irritating question and I nearly told him so until I saw how serious he was. My first response was yes but then, God help me, the word wouldn't leave my mouth which only made his question even more irritating. "You are making this way too complicated." He just kept looking at me so I told him what was so irritating. "Of course I want Dad back. And my brothers too. I could keep going and say I want Boone back because he was such a good dog and I want Mom and Hannah and Gram and all of them back only not the way they were when they got sick ... and even wish the dementia away so my grandfather could go back to being who he used to be. But you're acting like it could be done without a price, and there's always a price. If I did wish them all back I would be breaking my word ... our agreement. I don't want to do that. So to answer your question, yes I would wish them back but only if it came with not remembering a thing about you or what's been between us. I can't have both. And don't ask me why because I am done with your making things complicated and giving me a headache." I stood there with my arms crossed feeling cross. "I don't know what you're missing and wishing for Sloan but I don't expect it has much to do with me or the farm because you haven't had either one of us long enough to feel that way. Whatever it is, you're not likely to find it however you're going about it. So you might as well spit it out so we can figure out a way for you to have it so you can stop being so moody."

Sloan gave a half-hearted smile. "I guess unpacking this stuff has just brought up some memories I thought I had buried."

"If it is that bad stop unburying them; it's making you strange. Why don't you sit down ... I'll get you a glass of milk and a fried pie. I made some fresh from the early apples."

I tried to walk past but Sloan caught me around my waist. "That's your answer to everything ... fed 'em pie."

"It usually works."

Sloan gave a real grin and ran a hand down my back and it gave me an involuntary shiver. "What's this? Do you like that?"

"Stop it Sloan," I whispered desperately. "The windows and shades are all open. Someone will hear ... or worse, see something."

"Ok, ok ... don't get upset. And just save the pie. I'm sure it's good but I'm not hungry right now."

He gave me an absentminded pat on my shoulder and then left to go meet Dan who had just returned from town ... with more boxes. I watched him walk away and I knew without a doubt something was still bothering him because in my experience the only time a man was off his feed was when he had unpleasant things on his mind.


  1. I hate it when I tell someone to just be honest and spit it out and they STILL will "beat around the bush"!! lol! this gal is so practical that he NEEDS to SPIT IT OUT! HAHAHAHAHA!

    thanks so much!

  2. Well I got caught up on this one finally. You know it's really hard to concentrate on a story when you're feeling guilty because you aren't getting your canning and dehydrating done like the character in the story is doing LOL. Can't wait to read moar of this one too.