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“Yes Ma?” I yell back.
“It’s time to wake up and go to work on the farm!”
This is what I hear every morning around 5:30. Of course it’s nothing I mind because I love working on the farm; I just wish Ma would let me sleep in a bit later. But it’s just Ma and I on the farm now and I know that she needs me as much as possible.
I slide over to the side of the bed, put my feet down, and slip on my soft blue slippers that Pa gave me last Christmas. I slide my shirt on over my head and go downstairs to the kitchen table where Ma has breakfast set out in front of me as always. My favorite: pancakes and syrup that we got from the trees out back. I sit down, fill my plate, and start to dig in.
“What are your plans for today?” she asked.
“I’m not so sure, Ma. I know I have to work a long day for Mr. Montgomery and I want to go see Brooke before the day is over. I’ll try to be as fast as I can so you’re not alone for long.”
“So you and that Brooke girl have been talking a while. You’re starting to get serious, are ya?”
“I mean, I guess you could say that. She really makes me happy and she’s everything I’ve ever wanted, put into one.”
“As long as she treats you well, Brant. Just be home a little after dark so I’m not sick to my stomach worryin’ about you. You know how I can be.”
“I know Ma, I know.”
I look at the clock and realize that I’m already behind schedule; It’s ten minutes to six. I shovel the rest of my pancakes down, clean off my plate and slip it into the sink. I then dash up the stairs to change out of my pajamas and brush my teeth real quick. I run back down the stairs, grab my truck keys, slip on my shoes, and yell out a “I won’t be out late Ma! Love ya!” as I slip out of the door for the day.
I slip into the passenger side of my old Ford 4x4 pickup and slide over in the drivers seat.
I put my key into the ignition and start up the engine. I sit in my driveway for a moment or two and think of the things that I need to accomplish throughout the day. I have to go to work for Mr. Montgomery on the farm, go visit Brooke, and come back home in time to spend one-on-one time with Ma. I gather all of my thoughts and set off for the busy day ahead of me.
Pulling out of the long dirt driveway, I immediately see Mrs. Rogers to my right in her garden. That’s one of the things that she has taken pride in since Mr. Rogers has passed.
“Hey Mrs. Rogers!” I shout, “How’s your mornin’ goin’ so far?”
“Hi Brantley, it sure is a surprise to see you out this early! My morning’s going swell, how is yours?”
“Yeah, I’m pretty booked for the day so I thought that I would set out early. My morning is pretty good. Listen, I’m about to leave but do you need me to stop by the store on the way home for anything? I don’t mind, ya know.”
“No I don’t young man, but thank you for the offer. You have always been the sweetest.”
“Well thank you Mrs. Rogers, top of the mornin’ to ya!”
“See you around!”
I turn onto the long, straight main road and start my way to work. It’s pretty bare and there’s nothing much to see, but that’s what I’ve grown up around my whole life so I guess you could say I’m used to it by now. I pass the local convenience store on my left and the post office a little bit further down. I notice that I have a few more minutes left until I get to the farm so I decide to turn on the radio. My favorite song, “Dust On The Bottle” by David Lee Murphy, is on and I can already tell that work is going to go good. Maybe even better than it usually does.
A few minutes pass and I pull up to Mr. Montgomery’s farm. I start driving down the long dirt road that leads to his house to receive the orders for the day and can already feel my morning start to get better. See, going to work will always put me into a good mood if I’m not already because I’m able to work outside with the animals and do as I please while also being able to accomplish what I am assigned. I finally pull into the yard, park my truck, and hop out into the field located next to his house. I walk up to the front door where I’m greeted by his kind pit-bull puppy, Rudy, and proceed to knock on the door. After knocking one time, Mr. Montgomery appears at the door and welcomes me into his home.
“Mornin’ Brantley!” he says.
“Hey Mr. Montgomery, sorry I’m a little early, I just thought I would get a head start on the jobs for the day.”
“No, it is quite alright son! You know I’m awake at the crack of dawn so come in at whatever time you’d like!”
“Thank you, do you have a list of jobs for me to do?”
“I sure do. It’s not filled with much because you have accomplished so much within the last few days but there are still some jobs that could take you a few hours.”
“Okay, what would you like me to do today?”
“I would like it if you could groom the horses, feed all of the animals, and hose down the pigs. I need the chicken coop repainted but I think I will have you do that tomorrow.”
“That sounds like a plan Mr. Montgomery. It should only take me a few hours and if you need anything else done, let me know.”
“I will, sonny.”
I walk out of the door onto the nice shady porch and make my way to the horse stable that’s located behind the house. I walk in through the giant, red doors and start my way towards the first stall. The first stall holds Blue, a gray and black blazer horse, who’s very gentle and loving. He’ll let you groom him without causing a fight and is ready to work in the fields whenever you are. I take Blue out of the stall and hook him up in the middle of the barn where I start to groom him. I brush through his thick, coarse mane and comb his tail. This takes me about thirty-five minutes but it’s all worth it in the end because he looks clean and presentable. I then put Blue back into his stall, feed him hay, fill his water and a give him few of his special peppermint treats for being cooperative and then start to walk over to the second stall which contains Ariel, a gray and white mustang. She’s a very cleanly horse so cleaning her shouldn’t take a long while. I brush through her long mane and braid her tail, as well as brushing through the hair on the side of her body. After finishing that, I feed her, take care of all of her needs, and set off to do my other jobs.
I then walk to the other stable that is filled with pigs and pour their slop into their large, long container to distract them so I’ll be able to hose them down easier. I go off to fetch the hose in the corner, turn it on, and start spraying down the pigs. It seems to bother them a bit but as long as they have food, they’re happy. Plus, I only have to do it for a little bit until the mud is off of their sides. After I’m done feeding and washing down the pigs, I need to go over to the other side of the barn to feed the chickens and hens. I walk into the coop, sprinkle their food around and also put some in a couple of bowls and I’m already done my chores for the day. About three and a half hours has passed and it’s only ten-thirty in the morning. I want to be able to accomplish the rest of what I need to do for the day, spend time with Brooke and Mother, but I feel like it is now too early to do that so I start my way to go ask Mr. Montgomery if he has any other work for me. I reach the house, walk onto the porch, and knock on the door. I hear “Come in!” from the living room and walk in to see Mr. Montgomery watching a show that involves a talking horse, Mr. Ed I think it’s called.
“I’m sorry to interrupt your programming but I’m all done my work and I was curious as to see if you had any more for me to do.” I said.
“I’m all set sonny boy unless you want to start working on the chicken coop now.”
“I think I may. It’s too early to do anything else so why not!”
“All right, all of the supplies are right next to the coop and if you need anything from me, just holler in here.”
“Will do, Mr. Montgomery.”
Once again, I walk out onto the porch and make my way towards the coop. I see the supplies and think of the easiest way to do the project. I’ll paint one board at a time and see how it goes. I take the cap off of the paint and pour it into one of the small buckets that has been laying around. I then dab my paintbrush into the bucket and start painting. After a while, my arm starts to get sore so I take a break and sit there for a bit. After sitting down and resting for a bit, I then start to continue my work. In no time, I already have two sides of the coop done. Two sides done, two sides to go. It is now noon so I figure I should be done around two o’clock. I take another break and start in on the other sides that need to be completed. Painting isn’t quite as bad as I had imagined because I have Rudy sitting here next to me listening to all of my stories. Stories about my week, about my childhood, anything that comes to mind. I am now on the final panel and I run out of paint, I then pour more into the bucket and slab on the last dab of paint for the day. It’s two-ten in the afternoon and I’m done with work for the day.
I walk up to the house again to make Mr. Montgomery aware that I am finished with all of his assignments and that I will be back tomorrow. I enter his home and walk in to see him in the same spot that he was in before, watching the same television show he was watching two hours earlier. I realize that he is asleep so I feel that it is appropriate to write him a quick note.
“Dear Mr. Montgomery,
I have finished your job list for the day and will return back tomorrow morning. I need to put one more coat over the chicken coop and will do anything else that you ask of me. See you bright and early!
I place the note on the table that is set next to him and sneak out of the house as silently as possible. I walk down the steps to my prized possession, my truck, and slide in. I then back up so I am able to turn around and proceed back to the store that I had passed on the way over. I make it to the end of the driveway and take a left back onto the long, boring main road. About a half of a mile down the road, I pull into the convenience store so I am able to call Brooke from the pay-phone located outside. I hop out of the truck, put thirty-five cents into the machine, pull out the piece of paper with her number on it, and start dialing her number. I then put the phone up to my ear and my heart starts beating faster and faster as the phone rings and rings. Finally, I hear a voice on the other end of the phone.
“Hello?” I hear this sweet, innocent voice say.
“Hey Brooke, it’s um-it’s Brantley. I was kinda wonderin’ if you wanted to spend some time together today because I got out of work early.”
“Of course I would! What would you like to do?”
“We can go to the field, or drive around. Anything you’d like. I can be there in about five minutes. We can decide then. Can you be ready by then?”
“Yes sir, I can! I’ll see you soon.”
“See you soon.” I say.
I pull out of the store and seven minutes later, I’m sitting in Brooke’s yard. My heart is pumping fast and I can feel the butterflies in my stomach. I gather up the nerves to walk up to the front door and knock. She answers and I’m not too sure what to say. I’m floored at how beautiful she looks with her blond, wavy hair and sundress, along with her cowgirl boots.
“Wow, uh-you look gorgeous.” I manage to squeeze out.
“Well thank you, you look very handsome yourself.”
“Do you want to head out?”
We then walk to the truck, slide in, and turn on the radio.
“Wait, I forgot to ask, where do you want to go?”
“Do you just want to go down the street to the field?”
“Where ever you want.”
“Okay, let’s go there.”
We turn the radio back on and she starts singing to “Gone Country” by Alan Jackson. I start singing along and everything feels natural. By the time the song is over, we’re at the field and we hop out of the truck. It is just us two in the middle of a field. The two of us, alone. We grab the blanket out of the back of my truck and find a place to sit. She asks about my childhood and I tell her about how I used to go out hunting with my father before he left Ma and I, how I then became the man of the house and felt that everything was my responsibility because I was the only child, a male at that. She then asked why Pa left. I tell her that he left because he wasn’t ready to be father. Of course that’s what Ma and I think. Before I even have a chance to ask her about her childhood, she asks if I have any contact with my father. I tell her no and she asks why. I explain to her that if he wasn’t ready to be a father then, he doesn’t deserve me now. She doesn’t seem to understand how I feel and says that people can change and that I should try finding him and talking to him about why he left. She said maybe him and I could develop a relationship. This is what made me so mad. We’ve hung out for a total of about an hour and she thinks she already knows me. Tries to tell me that I should get back in contact with my father who abandoned my mother and I when I was only ten years old. Nine years ago. He missed out on parenting me for nine years, so why do the rest of the years matter? They don’t. She keeps nagging at me and eventually I snap. I can’t hold in my feelings anymore and I do something I regret; I yell at her.
“You know what? You don’t know me and you don’t know my life! You only know what I’ve told you so don’t go around telling me that I should invite my father back into my life when he has been absent for the last nine years. It does not work like it. Not everything works out wonderfully like you would like it to and you need to get that through your head.”
“Bring me home.”
She hops into the truck as so do I and it’s silent the whole ride back to her house. No music, no talking, nothing. Completely silent. We pull up to her house and she slides out.
“I’m sorry. I really a-”
“Don’t bother saying anything.”
I watch her as she walks up to her front door and enters her home. I then remain sitting in her driveway thinking that I could have just possibly ruined one of the best things that has happen to me in a while. I then realized that it is only four o’clock in the afternoon and that my plans have definitely not gone as planned. I start my truck, pull out of her yard, and head home. The whole way home all I think about is how much I regret yelling at her, especially because she’s a female and my mother taught me to never raise my voice or hand at a female. I just didn’t know what I was doing at the time. I guess it’s a sensitive subject to me because of how much it affected my childhood.
When I pull into my yard, I just sit there for a minute. After the minute has passed, I get out of my truck, walk into my house, and mother asks why I’m home so early. I explain to her what had happened and she said that she understands why I did what I did but that it also wasn’t acceptable and that I had to apologize to Brooke when everything calmed down. I planned on doing that anyway so my mother confirming that I should makes me feel much more comfortable doing it. I just don’t know what to say. Mother says that I should just say what I feel in the moment, tell her that I didn’t realize that it was such a sensitive subject to me, and that I really wish I had held back from yelling at her because I know better.
Mother and I sit back in the living room and eat the dinner that she had prepared earlier. She’s watching the five o’clock news like she does every other day and I join her. After we finish supper, I clean up the dishes and tell her that I plan on going to bed early because of the situation that occurred earlier. She says that she understands and gives me a kiss on the forehead before I make my way upstairs to shower.
When I reach the upstairs bathroom, I gather my clothes, take a quick and hot shower, then lay in my bed thinking about what had happened for hours. I finally come to the conclusion that after work tomorrow I am going to stop at her house unexpectedly to apologize and hope that she accepts and understands why I did it. This thought makes me feel much better and I fall asleep quickly.
It’s 5:30 again and it’s time to wake up. I slip on my clothes for the day, make my way downstairs, and greet mother with a kiss on the cheek. She has my pancakes laid out and I eat quickly. There’s barely any time for us to hold a conversation before I rush out the door for the day, keys in hand, and inform Mother that I will be home later in the day.
Getting into the truck, I realize how big of a day this may be. I will either have a really good day, or an absolutely horrendous one. Hoping for the first, of course. I pull out of the driveway, no sign of Mrs. Rogers, and am on the same old boring route to work that I take every day. Five minutes later, I pass the same old boring convenience store and post office and soon enough, I’m at work.
I pull up, get out of my truck, and knock on Mr. Montgomery’s door. He greets me with a smile like usual and thanks me for not waking him up during his afternoon nap yesterday. He says because of everything that I accomplished the day before, he is only going to have me do the second coat on the chicken coop and I will be able to use the rest of my day however I want. Whether it will be on the farm or elsewhere. I thank him and make my way back to the chicken coop, Rudy by my side of course.
It’s 6:35 in the morning and I’m already getting ready to pour the paint into the bucket and start work. I start painting and am able to get one panel of the coop done within 20 minutes. I figure if I keep the same pace, I’ll be able to get the second coat done in about an hour. It’s 7:45 by the time that I am done because I had to take a break but that still gives me the majority of the day to do whatever I please. I go to inform Mr. Montgomery that I am finished with my work and says that he will see me tomorrow.
I pull out and am on my way to Brooke’s home. I’m hoping that she is awake and assuming that she is because it is now 8 o’clock and the sun is all the way up. While I’m driving, I notice that I am shaking and finally realize how nervous I am to confront her. How much this could effect everything. Two minutes until I get to her house, the butterflies are coming and I completely forget what I am going to say. I’m just going to have to wing it, say what I feel in the moment and hope that it works.
I’m here, sitting in Brooke’s driveway and slowly get out to make my way to the door. I walk up the stairs and knock. Now I’m waiting. Waiting for someone to open the door, hoping that somebody will. After a minute, Brooke opens the door and the look on her face makes me feel like she’s surprised that I came back to talk to her.
I spit out, “Before you even have a chance to say anything, let me talk first. Please. I didn’t mean that I said yesterday and I definitely didn’t mean to yell it at you. I know better than that and I guess it’s just a sensitive subject to me. I know that it was not acceptable and I’m hoping that you understand that. Please give me another chance.”
“I’m sorry, too. I should have just minded my own business. None of that stuff is my choice, it’s yours, and I need to leave it to you. Start over?”
“I’d like that.”
“Want to spend the day together? I have the day off.”
“Sure, let me run inside real fast and change and I’ll be right out!”
I’m now sitting in the truck waiting for her to come outside, ready to spend the day with me, ready to restart. I’m thinking about how her forgiving me is probably one of the best things that has happened in a while and how excited I am that she’s giving me another chance. A few minutes later, she comes outside in a pair of short jean shorts, a t-shirt, and her hair up. My kind of girl. I ask her where she wants to go and she says that she wants to go back to the field where we were last night.
I pull out and make my way down to the field. She turns on the radio and listens to the countdown while I focus on driving and not saying some dumb comment that could mess things up another time. After a few minutes, we arrive at the field and put out the blanket that we did the night before. We sit down and talk about subjects other than my dad such as her family, schooling, what she wants to do for a job. We focused on her. After a couple of hours, we realize how much time has passed and this is my chance, to tell her how I feel.
“Brooke.” I blurt out.
“I like you. I really like you a lot. And I was hoping that we can do this more often.”
“Well Brantley, I like you a lot aswell and I’d really enjoy that.”
That’s something that I’ve wanted to hear for a while but I notice that it’s starting to get dark and unfortunately, it’s time for me to bring her home. I don’t want to make a bad impression on her parents and that’s the last thing that I need. We hop into the truck, pull into her driveway, talk for a few minutes about how we have to do this more often, and I walk her up to the door. I say goodnight and receive a kiss on the cheek.
“Call me tomorrow, I want to see you.” She says.
It caught me off-guard but I replied quickly with a “I will for sure.”
She shut the door and I head back home to rest for the next day.