Chapter 1 GOING HOME
My new life is waiting to begin, of all places in West Virginia. In all honesty I won’t miss the sweltering heat and flat landscape that has been home for seventeen years. The mountains are beautiful and full of mystery. It is like driving into another world, one where anything is possible.
The winding roads twisting and turning through the mountains beckoning you to follow. Every turn reveals more beauty than anyone has a right to behold. Waterfalls sparkling in the sunlight, cold, and clear with spring water flowing out of the mountains like life giving blood from the heart. Still, in other curves you can see the landscape rise and fall almost like a giant’s ribs moving in silent slumber. You can see the creeks and rivers snaking through adding more hues to a perfect patchwork quilt that could only be stitched by the hand of God. While other places have trees lining the road like sentinels tickling the earth with their feather like leaves.
Even with its undeniable beauty it’s strange to think of all the places I could’ve gone that this backwoods town would have such a draw. It’s almost like the land is calling my name. It seems silly but I don’t feel I have a choice but to come back to my roots.
I used to spend summers here until my Grandma died. The house and land were left to my mom and then handed down to me when she died this past June. I still have some cousins, aunts, and uncles there, but I don’t know them well. My Great -aunt Roxie said she would be waiting for me and would help however she could. That was somewhat comforting; at least I would know one person.
Nothing much has changed, this little road is still bumpy and way to narrow to be marked for two lanes. In the distance I could see the little gray shingle siding house from my childhood summers.
Roxie hasn’t changed at all. She is a short dark haired woman with high cheekbones and a slender build. My grandma had some Cherokee in her. She never had a gray hair in her head, and the knowledge she took with her to the grave was a crime. She used to take me on nature walks and could name every tree just by looking at the bark, stressing how important it is to respect the earth and our heritage.
“Hey Aunt Roxie, thanks for meeting me.” It felt good to move after riding in the moving van for so long.
“Anything for Evelyn’s granddaughter, it’s amazing how much you remind me of her. Just a blond version.” she said with remembrance in her eyes. “Where are your things?” Concern coloring her tone.
“All my possessions are in this little moving van, my brother took everything else. Which reminds me, do you know of a sturdy truck for sale? I’ll need some kind of transportation.” She pretended to think for a moment, “Sure do, your grandpa’s truck is still in almost perfect condition. He would’ve wanted you to have it. It’s actually parked in the garage; I thought you might like it.” Then, she gave me the biggest hug and one long look before walking toward the garage.
I opened the garage door, which was a difficult task. It looked like the whole structure might cave in at any moment. There just behind the door was the truck. It was much better than I had imagined. It’s black with chrome side mirrors, bumpers, and exhaust pipes. It lacks air conditioning and the radio is broken, but it runs. Jim must have worked on it; his signature is all over it he loves chrome.
The house wasn’t much better than the garage. Lightning had hit it a few years ago, so it needs completely rewired. Some broken windows and shingles falling off too, but the bones look strong. Now, I need to see the inside. “Well, let me know if you need anything, my number is on the feet.” Roxie said handing me the keys as she turned to leave.
With all the damage, the front porch will have to be gutted, hopefully it is just the porch. I started cautiously through the old wooden door, to my surprise the rest of the house looked like it just needed a good cleaning. The family took anything worth having, few pieces of furniture or pictures remain. The front room is tiny but comfortable. The walls are lined in light blue paneling and rusty brown carpet covered the barn board floors. The first thing I will be doing is taking up the nasty carpet. The floors underneath are walnut, and should be beautiful. I walked straight on through to check out the kitchen. Wow, not bad, it needs a coat of paint and it’ll be good. The kitchen is the largest room in the house, my grandpa made the cabinets by hand and they were still in good shape. Paneling is the theme throughout the house, just different colors. The floor in here has old yellow linoleum, very seventies. The old wood stove she used for laundry is still in the middle of the room. It always kept the house warm. I made my way down the hallway; the first obstacle is the floor furnace. It needs removed and the floor repaired. It felt like I was going to fall through the floor as I stepped across it. Three bedrooms and one very tiny bathroom down the hall. Off the kitchen is another enclosed porch with steps that lead to the basement and the door to the back yard and deck. I’ll start with the back bedroom so I can have a place to sleep tonight.
Outside was a huge trash can perfect for the job. I took it in and started sifting through the debris. Most of it was trash, but there were a few treasures hidden amongst it. Once the floor was clear I started on the closet. Cool the vacuum cleaner! One less thing for me to buy. There is storage above the closet, but I decided to save that for later. I pulled up the carpet and wiped down the walls. Now, all I need is to get my bed set up and I’ll be fine for tonight.
Before going out to the truck I decided to take a little break and make a list to help me stay on track:
Well, better get my bed before dark and I can get the rest in the morning. Forcing myself out of the comfy old chair I thought how nice it would be for help to just fall in my lap, the bed is heavy.
Just then coming down the road was one sexy piece of a car. A shiny black mustang was roaring toward my house. I realized it was slowing down and that my jaw was dropped simultaneously.
The passenger window opened and I heard the most beautiful words. “Hey, you need some help?”
I quickly pulled myself together to respond. “Sure, if I could just find me a strong man. You know of one?” My flirting skills are seriously lacking.
“Well, you’re in luck.” he said with a chuckle. He pulled in the driveway and stepped out. It took a second to realize why my head was swirling, I wasn’t breathing. I blinked furiously trying to be sure I wasn’t asleep. He has got to be a gift from God, there is no way anyone could look that good on their own.
“Thank you. I’m Braeden Donovan, what’s your name?” I asked still staring like an idiot.
“Kayne. You must be Evelyn’s granddaughter.” He stretched out his hand to shake mine. His hand was strong and cold like he’d had it against the air conditioner. My stomach twisted a little with a slight cramp, it must be nerves.
“I appreciate your help; I was just wondering how to get all this in the house. He must have been trying to show off, because he carried the bed in by himself and never broke a sweat. We sat down on the porch a moment and I offered him something to drink, but he didn’t want anything. “I don’t know many people around here; do you know someone I can get to help me with the rest of the work I need done.”
Showing him my list, Kayne took the list and nodded. “I’ll talk to my dad and see if he knows of anyone reliable and come back tomorrow to help you with the rest of your stuff.”
“Goodnight and thanks again.” I realized I was waving like my grandma did when I left, except I had a stupid grin on my face. It felt good to have made a friend so quickly. My luck usually wasn’t this good, but I could feel change in the wind.