Chapter One - Spring 1989
Life on a farm was typical for Ethan McCrary, if you grew up on a farm in Iowa. Or most any farm in the farm belt in America.
Chores, once you were old enough, starting at sunrise or shortly thereafter. Play consisted of a lot of hide and seek in fields of corn or the nooks and crannies of barns or silos. Raising animals for pets, to sell and to eat was universal. Your playmates are typically siblings, animals, or if necessary, imaginary friends.
Ethan didn’t have that problem however, he had Kaitlyn Harris. They were inseparable from the time they met as toddlers. As they grew, they helped each other with their chores, finishing them faster so they had more time together, to play and explore the farms and their other surroundings.
Kaitlyn was as fearless as any boy, and proved it many times over, following Ethan on dares and stunts. Climbing mundane things like trees or doing dangerous things like jumping from the hayloft in the barn into an undersized pile of hay, Kaitlyn followed right on Ethan’s heels.
She was a tomboy in the truest sense. Less than four months separated the two in age, so they were together at school as well.
Being a rough and tumble little girl, Kaitlyn’s parents stopped fighting her nature and gave in, cutting her hair short and keeping her clothes durable. Dresses were a fight and only worn on special occasions, and only then after coaxing, bribing and threats were used.
Tragedy hit Ethan hard at eight and Kaitlyn was at his side for days trying to help him through the dark time; the two of them apart for not longer than it took to use the restroom.
Ethan’s dad became concerned at first, when he found them both in the bathroom while showering. He silently watched as one showered while the other sat on the closed toilet, handing towel and pajamas though the closed shower curtain, then switching positions and repeating the process.
See no impropriety, he realized that the only thing between them was a thin shower curtain, which was enough for modesty, but not too much for the closeness his son needed. The closeness he was getting from Kaitlyn but wasn’t asking from him.
The first night Ethan’s father made them sleep in separate beds but found them together the next morning in a pile of blankets, Kaitlyn’s arms wrapped around his son for protection and comfort.
Short of kicking her out, he knew it was pointless to try to separate them, so he let them be. He gave his son space to grieve for his mother, while doing so himself, telling his son he was there if he needed anything.
The son grieved, comforted by this best friend while the father grieved alone. The father’s only solace was he had faith that his son would get what he needed from Kaitlyn if it was at all possible, and when Ethan was ready to move on, he would let his father know.
Time passed, and after a few days he noticed Kaitlyn was around less and his son was spending more time alone. As the days went by, things returned to normal, or as normal as they could get after such a loss, and the worry about this son lessened with each passing day.