Thought it might be a good time to share a little piece of ‘Country Girls’ with everyone. Here is a section from Chapter 3 ‘The Doctor Is In’… Enjoy 🙂
…Eli and I were still out fixing fences. All around us were cows who spent their days and nights grazing the fields. I always appreciated the simplicity of that. They had the same purpose day in and day out and they seemed rather content with that. I was in the middle of straightening out a fence post when I saw Doc’s car pulling out of our driveway.
I called over to Eli, “Is that Doc’s car pulling out?”
She looked up. “Looks like it. Wonder what that’s about.” Without skipping a beat, she went right back to attaching a board that had come loose.
I stood there and watched the car leave and disappear in the distance. “You don’t think there’s anything wrong with the old man, do you?”
The board Eli had been working on was fixed. She hung her hammer on it and looked at me. “Are you kidding? That old ox is going to outlive us all. As stubborn as he is, he would just tell death to buzz off and come back later…I’m sure it’s nothing. Maybe he just came by to chat.”
I had my doubts about that. “Eli, it’s Wednesday. Doc was just here last night playing poker…you really think they had more to talk about first thing this morning?”
She didn’t have an answer. “I don’t know. Look, if it’s something serious, he’s not gonna tell us anyway, so just forget about it.”
I knew she was right and I hated it. “Fine. Hand me those nails, would ya?”
Eli reached down into the toolbox we had brought and handed me a jar of nails. “Here.”
I took them and reached for a new board. “Thanks. Now, hold this while I tighten it.”
Eli glared at me as though I had asked her to wear a dress and put a pink bow in her hair. “Are you shittin’ me?”
I was completely clueless and had no idea why she was reacting this way. “What?”
This only pissed her off more. “Don’t ‘what’ me! You know exactly, what. Last time you had me ‘hold something’ for you, I wound up in the emergency room!”
It was true. “That was one time! One broken thumb and I never hear the end of it!” I hardly thought it was worth all the upset, but Eli felt differently.
“Yeah, you try doing the work around here with a broken thumb! You know it still doesn’t bend right!” She started moving away, leaving me standing there holding the board on my own.
“Oh, come on.” But, Eli just kept walking, turning around only once to give me the finger before she found a rotten post to replace that she felt was at a safe distance from me and my hammer.
“I see your middle finger still works fine, though.” I stood there for a while, board in hand, trying to determine the best way to attack this particular predicament.Eventually, I formulated my plan and proceeded with the job.
On the ranch, the days were long, the mornings came early and the work was hard. I loved every second of it. The truth was, that I couldn’t imagine my life being anything else. It didn’t matter what needed to be done, I knew I was capable of doing it. Feeling like I was in my element at all times gave me a confidence I hadn’t ever experienced, before I came to live with Harry. Even though I was the oldest, I had always envied Eli, who at an early age was outspoken and courageous in a way I had only dreamed of being. She was the fighter, I was the protector. Over the years we had rubbed off on each other, but at our core we remained the same people we had been when we were four and seven. I often wondered who we might have become, had life not required us to play those parts from the very beginning, but then I suppose it didn’t much matter. We had lived the life we lived and we had become who we were, because of it. Or maybe, in spite of it. I had also spent many moments throughout our childhood watching Eve, studying her even, being completely fascinated with her innocence and childishness.Imagining what it must be like to be untouched by tragedy and heartache. Sure, she had lost her parents, just as Eli and I had, but she had been so small, she had never known them. Eve had no memories of what our family had been like before. She remembered nothing about the night of the fire. She was blessed and we were broken. Eli and I had made it our life’s mission to keep it exactly that way. Now that she had moved so far away, we were afraid for her. Scared that in the end we had harmed her more than we had helped. We had sheltered her all of her life, without ever expecting that one day, she might have to know how to take care of herself.
By the time we finally finished those fences, it was past lunchtime. We sat on the back of the tailgate, eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, looking out across the fields. After we ate, we made our way down to the barn. There were stalls to be mucked, horses to be ridden and saddles to be cleaned. Once all of that was done, we came full circle and ended the day with the evening feeding. We were just finishing up, when Harry joined us in the barn. As always, Roscoe was right by his side.
“You girls have any plans tonight?”
Eli put up the wheel barrow and sat down beside him on a bale of hay. “Em has a date. Well, she’s calling it a date…I call it babysitting.”
Harry smiled at me. “Are you still seeing that Harmon Boy?”
I knew I was in for some teasing, but I didn’t mind. That Harmon boy was worth it. “Yes, I am…and he’s not that young.” I finished collecting feed buckets and waited for the next smart remark. It came from Harry.
“You know what, Em? If you want to rob the cradle go right ahead! I was just watching TMX and all the Hollywood ladies are doing it. They’re calling themselves, Pumas.”
Eli burst into laughter. She was laughing so hard she was curled over and nearly rollin’ on the ground. I wouldn’t have been surprised one bit if she had actually made herself pee a little. Even I had a smirk on my face, but I was trying my best to hide it from them.
Eli was still beside herself with sheer delight. “Yeah Em, be a Puma and be proud!”
I chucked one of my buckets at her. “Shut it.”That got her attention.
“Hey, watch it!”
Harry had been able to remain quiet, but I suspected he was having a good chuckle on my account on the inside. When he finally opened his mouth, it was to turn the tables, and I was grateful.
“What about you, Eli? Going out?” We both turned to look at Eli.
“Yeah, I’ll probably head down to Mike’s for a beer and a game of pool. Why? You trying to get rid of us or something?”
The old man didn’t skip a beat, “Yes, I am. Been trying for damn near 15 years now, it just isn’t working.” For a quiet man, he had a remarkable sense of humor. I loved that about him.
“Real funny, Harry.” Eli poked him in the side. “Who are you kidding, old man. You’d be lost without us and you know it.”
Harry put his arms up in the air, “I know that I’d be retired now and enjoying the view from my condo in Miami, if you two weren’t hanging around here.”
By now, I had finished my nightly rounds and since every animal had been fed, I was most certain it was finally my turn to eat. “Well, since we are hanging around here, I’m going to go make us some dinner. See you two inside.”
I turned and walked out of the barn, leaving Harry and Eli behind…