Summer has a way of bringing changes, doesn't it?
I woke next morning to the sound of a faint rooster crow. I fumbled out of bed, tripping over the sheets and landing on the floor, making a loud thud. Quickly, I got into the shower then pulled on my clothes and hurried out to the hen house. Then I hurried out to the barn, where I met the famous Clarabell. I sat on a rickety stool and finally got that chore done, running into the house with the morning collections, smelling the welcoming aroma of a freshley cooked breakfast.
"Morning, Seth," Mrs. Barnett called as I walked in the front door. She was apparentley a morning person. "Breakfast will be ready as soon as you bring me the eggs, dearest." I walked as if in a trance over to Mrs. Barnett. Immediatetly she scrambled some eggs and poured them into the buttered frying pan.
"Go ahead and set down, Seth. Breakfast likes just a hair from being ready." Mrs. Barnett seemed to be gushing with happiness. As if last night hadn't happened.
I placed myself into the rickety walnut chair. Mrs. Barnett busied herself about putting food on the table and finishing up the eggs. She tossed me a plate.
"Get whatever you like," she said, returning to her fidgeting. I ate some eggs and poked at my biscuit then decided to go ahead and get the rest of my chores done.
"Thank you, ma'am for the meal," I mumbled, then got up and walked out into the barn, getting a horse to head for the fields. Man, I didn't know what I'd find there.
On the trip to Pippa Passes yesterday (which seemed like years to me now) Jason had informed me on a few of the characters who lived nearby. (Well, a couple of miles apart, but... you know what I mean.) He said that there were two teenagers around my age, Jamie Lauren and Derek Lykins. Derek, he said, is 18, and Jamie, 15. I asked him to describe Derek, and he said he was a little shorter than me, not by much, had curly brown hair and emerald eyes. I asked him to describe Jamie, and he laughed. He said that was a suprise he rather not spoil. Then he laughed harder.
I was tending to the crops when I heard someone cry in the distance.
"HELP! Help!" cried an angelic voice in the distance. I immediately hopped on the horse and gallopped toward the sound. We rode for a couple of seconds to find a short, slim teenage girl battle a wandering bull. I looked at the saddle on my horse to check for a leather bag. And, just as I hoped,
I pulled out a worn but sturdy rope. Hoping my rope skills that my father had taught me would come in handy right about now, I did my best to lasso one of the raging bull's horns..... and it fit perfect! The raging bull caught wind of me. I quickly knotted the other end to a tree and got the heck to the other side. Wouldn't hold long, but hopefully, long enough. I ran over and got the girl and ran until I was completely out of breath.
"Thanks," said the girl.
"Awww, it wasn't nothing," I smiled.
"If you would've given me a couple more seconds that bull would have been halfway to my cousin's farm!" she snapped.
"Thanks for the gratitude," I breathed sarcastically. I hadn't noticed until now how beautiful this girl actually was. She had shoulder length red hair, eyes the color of Mrs. Barnett's walnut furniture collection, a pinch of freckles here and there. Again, she was kind of short, coming about a couple of inches below my chest. Although short, she made me speechless as I looked into her hypnotising walnut eyes.
"What's the matter? Cat got your tongue?" she teased playfully. I finally zapped back to reality.
"Nnn...noo," I stammered. She giggled.
"I'm Jamie Lauren," she smiled, reaching her hand out as a peace offering.
"I...I'm..." and I swear I forgot my name.
"The teenage boy that came to work for the widow Mrs. Barnett?" Jamie giggled some more, and it made me.... yes, me, Seth Lakey blush tomato red.
"Um... Seth Lakey," I reached out my hand and shook hers.
"Not from around these parts, are you, hun?" she asked.
"I'm from Salyersville, in Magoffin County," I finally got my memory back.
"Oh, you mean Magoofin County?"
"We could do without the teasing," I felt anger rise in me. You could make me forget my name, you can tease me, you can make me forget how to breathe, but you don't say a word about my roots.
"Sorry," she smiled.
"Who... do you live with?"
"My grandmother, Vera Schwan," she almost whispered. "Dr. Schwan, you'll hear the locals call her."
"What happened to... your... pp... parents?" her eyes made me stutter.
She turned serious. "Car accident. Long ago."
"My dad died in a car crash too." It turned silent.
"Are you okay?" I asked. That was the worst thing I could've asked. She smiled then walked in a circle around me, making me gulp. She stopped when she went around once and came just a couple inches from my face. Her breathing on my face made my heart rate increase, oh, just about 90%.
"Honey, I can take care of myself, thank you very kindly," she nodded her head at me, then stepped back.
"Now, if you don't mind Ol' Pal, I'll be heading to the haceinda," Jamie slipped through the thickets, disappearing with the sunset.
It was about 6:30 in the afternoon when I came galloping in on Mrs. Barnett's horse, who she failed to mention its name. The mare was exquisite; her midnight coat had glossed in the sun earlier that day. Coming down from the tip of her head to the tip of her nose was a thick white line which contrasted unbelieveably with her shiny black coat. As she trotted back into the farm, I rubbed her for a while then gave her some oats. I traveled at almost lightspeed into Mrs. Barnett's kitchen to find the pleasing aroma of fried chicken and some cold, heaven to the tongue, iced tea.
"You're home late," Mrs. Barnett said, pouring me a glass of the iced tea. "I guess you'll get better with time."
"Thank you, ma'am," I nodded in respect as Mrs. Barnett slid the cup over to me across the table.
"Anything exciting keep you late?" asked Mrs. Barnett, a spec of a glistening sparkle in her weary eyes.
"I met Jamie Lauren," I replied. Mrs. Barnett was beginning to sound like my mom when I came home from school.... when I was 9.
Mrs. Barnett seemed to already know. "Did she give you a hard time, young'un?" she asked, smiling. My blush gave me away.
"I reckon," was all I could mutter out.
"I'm going to warn you, she's wilder than a cougar's cat," she smiled. It's a little too late, Mrs. Barnett. I just wish you would have told me that this morning. I picked around and finally ate some of my scrumptious meal. I asked to be excused (I thought Mrs. Barnett was hardcore like that.)
"Hey, Seth," called Mrs. Barnett.
She giggled. "You don't have to asked to be excused."
I snuggled up in my bed, too warm for the blankets, so I just hugged myself. I skimmed through my Bible, wanting to read something that I could sleep on. When my father died, I kinda strayed from God. Although that was 6 years ago, I was just then getting close to him again. I looked down at the perfect verse...
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. - Deuteronomy 31:6
That really helped me shake off the day. Thanks, Dad, for the gift.
As a long hard week of farmwork passed by, the usual happened. The first Friday on the farm, I had the... pleasure, I wouldn't dare call it.... of escaping off of the farm.
"Good morning, Seth," Mrs. Barnett greeted in her morning voice as I walked through the kitchen. I was starting to get used to her.
"Good morning, Mrs. Barnett," I yawned, still have asleep.
"Won't you skip the farmhandin' this morning and go down to the Paintsville Lake Port?" asked Mrs. Barnett.
"I ordered a new part for the tractor, it hasn't worked in a while." I tsked tsked with my fork around my plate.
"What's the catch?" I asked. Mrs. Barnett smiled.
"Dr. Schwan is out of town today, and she doesn't want Jamie to stay by herself."
My mouth dropped open. "You want me to babysit Jamie?" I chuckled. "She'll kill me!"
"I trust you'll survive," said Mrs. Barnett, then she shot me a warning glance. "Oh, my, Jamie, you have grown!"
I glanced around. There was Jamie. Smiling. Looking at me. She heard, I know she did. That's why she's smiling.
"Thank you, Mrs. Barnett, for letting me ride along with Seth today."
"Oh, whatever you want, sweety. Alright, run along," Mrs. Barnett. I stood there, still stunned.
"Oh, c'mon, Seth," Jamie smiled, tugging me out the door to Mrs. Barnett's old truck. I got into the driver's seat.
"Let me drive," Jamie chimed.
"You're only 15," I argued.
"Soooooo," she stretched out. I rolled my eyes. She slipped into the passenger seat, then on my lap. My heart thudded faster. I'm sure she felt it. She giggled.
"Alright, alright, you take the driver's seat," I grumbled, scooting to the passenger seat. Biggest mistake of my short life. She drove 90. All. The. Way. To. Paintsville. It takes about 40 minutes to Paintsville. We got there in 20.
"Slow down, Jamie!"
Her eyes danced. She used the most velveting voice I ever heard. "Now, Seth," she smiled, stretching my name. I just sat there, my lips pursued in an arguing stature, but I couldn't make words come out. And that's why we got there in 20 minutes.
"I'm driving on the way back," I said as we stretched out of the vehicle.
"Suit yourself," shrugged Jamie, smiling. She threw me the keys. I was dizzy; I couldn't tell whether it was from Jamie's fast driving...... or her.
We got the part; no problem. Then I got the privilige to see Derek Lykins.
"Hey, Seth, over there is Derek," Jamie whispered.
"Jamie!" yelled Derek.
"Hey! This is Seth," she said as he neared closer.
"Hey Seth," he greeted, winking at me. I blushed.
I'm just going to say, before I met Jamie Lauren, I had never blushed. Wow.
"Seth's that farmhand that Mrs. Barnett hired for this summer," Jamie explained to Derek. Then Derek reached out his hand to me.
"I'm Jamie's cousin," explained Derek. For some reason, I found relief in this.
"Howdy," I greeted.
"Good luck son," he whispered when Jamie started skipping to the car. "Good luck, cause you're without a doubt gonna need some." Then he winked and whisked away.
"Where are we going to grab some grub?" asked Jamie, holding her stomach. "I'm starving," she complained. I smiled.
"McDonalds?" she suggested.
"You're a cheap date," I joked.
"Oh, so now we're on a date?"
"You know what I mean, smart alleck."
Jamie looked at be and smiled with those big brown eyes as I, (thank the Lord me and not Jamie) drove us to the McDonald's drive thru.