Finding a Place
Sarah walked out of the house toward the barn, holding on to Brick’s arm. “Thank you for always standing up for me, you’re kind. But I can take care of myself.”
Brick smiled and patted her hand. “No doubt my dear. Don’t worry about it, you remind me of my wife a bit. She had that same spark you have.”
“Do you mind if I ask what happened to her?”
Brick sighed, “The cancer got her, took her right out from under my nose.”
“I am sorry that I didn’t get to meet her, she sounds wonderful,” Sarah replied.
“She was the most wonderful person I’ve ever known,” Brick smiled.
As they walked into the barn Brick showed her where all the supplies were and then got to work mucking stalls.
Sarah had loved horses since she was young, and she was sad that she would probably never see her horse “Bean” again. She took her time brushing down each of the six horses in the barn and clapped her hands together, proud of the work she had done. By the time she was finished it was just about lunch time. The afternoon was hot but there was a nice breeze blowing. Sarah walked back up to the house, dusting off her dress before she entered.
“Martha?” she called.
Martha stepped out of the kitchen, wiping her hands on her apron. “Yes, Miss Sarah?”
“Are any of the men in for lunch?”
“No,” Martha replied, “They usually pack a lunch and eat out on the ranch.”
“Alright,” Sarah smiled, “Why don’t you have lunch with me, then? We can sit out on the porch swing.”
“Sounds wonderful. I’ve got chicken left over from last night, care for a sandwich?”
“That is perfect!” Sarah replied.
Martha walked out on the front porch and handed Sarah a napkin with a sandwich wrapped in it. It smelled amazing and Sarah ate it quickly, not realizing just how hungry she had been.
“So nobody answered my question, but what did Mr. Evan’s wife do around here?”
Martha thought for a minute. “Well, she mostly kept the house. I was brought on to lighten her load a bit, plus she wasn’t the greatest cook,” Martha giggled. “But she cleaned the house, kept the chickens out back as well as the garden, helped with the horses like you did today, and she and I would do the laundry together.”
“Goodness, she did all that every day?” Sarah asked, regretting asking the question.
Martha laughed at Sarah’s worry, “No dear, she cleaned only when it was needed- maybe once or twice a week. The laundry was done twice a week as well- these men are hard on their clothes so there was way too much to do it all in one day. The only things she did every day was tend to the horses and chickens and then work in the garden. We used to have a huge one that would give us vegetables and fruit all year round, it hasn’t been nearly as cared for as it should be since she passed.”
Hmm, Sarah thought to herself. “What grows well here?” she asked.
“Mostly everything. Some things do better in the milder spring months like sweet peas and lettuce. But she grew everything in that garden.”
After lunch Sarah decided to walk around the back of the house and look at the state of the garden. She had enjoyed it as a hobby back home, but had never seriously gardened and wondered if she could get Brick or Martha to help her. Looking at the back garden she stood wide eyed.
“It’s in a state, isn’t it,” she muttered to herself. The garden had overgrown and was full of weeds and dead plants. It was brown and sad instead of green and full. It was bad, but Sarah had decided that this would be her project.
Martha walked up beside her, “It’s not in the best shape...”
Sarah chuckled, “That’s an understatement. You think you’d be willing to help me with the planting if I get all this cleared out?”
Martha smiled, “Sure. You’ll need to ask one of the men to plow the lot for you though, after you clear the plants. And then we’ll need to go to town and get some seeds.”
At dinner, Brick surprised them with an idea.
“We’ve got a newcomer, so let’s play a bit of a game while we eat.” The other three looked up, curious about what he was thinking. “We’ll take turns asking a question and we each have to give an answer.”
Sarah chuckled, none of them had probably played a game like that since they were children.
“I’ll go first, what’s y’all’s favorite color? Mine is red,” Brick stated.
Garrett laughed, “I don’t know boss. Green?”
Sarah shook her head smiling, “I like lavender.”
They all looked at Sterling who was silent.
“Well?” Brick asked his son.
Sterling rubbed his head, “I don’t know Pop, yellow I guess?”
Brick laughed out loud, “You got lucky, your wife has pretty blonde hair, your favorite color.”
Sarah blushed while Brick and Garrett laughed at Sterlings expense. “Okay, my turn,” Sterling started, “What do y’all think of hard work?”
The men laughed and Sarah knew the question was aimed at her. She straightened her in her seat and then spoke, trying to rein in the sass that was attempting to slip out. “Well, I think hard work is an important thing, it makes you appreciate the things you have.” Brick and Garrett nodded their heads,” BUT I also think too much hard work is a bad thing. Life is to be enjoyed sometimes.” Sterling stared at her curiously, he wasn’t expecting her answer.
“Well, couldn’t have said it better myself. I agree!” Brick boomed. “Alright Sarah, you go ahead.”
Sarah thought for a moment, “What is your favorite season of the year? Mine is the spring. All of the new growth, the world smells clean from the rains, the brightness of nature.” Sarah smiled, taking herself back to the lushness of her family’s plantation.
The men sat in thought for a minute. “The fall, after we sell.” Garrett spoke up. “It’s the one time of the year things start to calm down a bit.”
The other men nodded in agreement before Sterling spoke up, “Same for me. I like the calm before winter kicks in.”
“I like the spring,” Brick chimed in, “All of the precious new calves, it’s amazing to see.”
They all smiled and continued their game for a few more rounds before all heading up to bed.
As they were walking upstairs Sarah summoned her courage and asked Sterling her question, “Would you like to go for a ride with me tomorrow?” she asked, meeting his eyes.
“I can’t,” he answered coldly, making Sarah wonder if he couldn’t, or didn’t want to. “I have work.”
“You have work every day,” Sarah sighed, “that’s never going to change. Remember what I said at dinner? Live a little. I’m just asking for a couple of hours.”
“Do you even know how to ride a horse?” he asked smugly.
“I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t know how,” Sarah sassed back him.
They made their way into the bedroom, “Alright,” Sterling said rubbing the back of his head. “I guess I can go out for a couple hours.”