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Although this story is set in the 1850’s and I tried to be historically accurate, please know that all events, locations, and names are absolutely made up (even if the characters feel real to me). As always, please leave comments!
I know I’m on death’s door.
The blistering sun sits way up high, sucking the last few traces of life out of me. Even when I try to run my tongue against my lips, it is as if I am rubbing saltine crackers over them. My lips are cracked like the dried mud I’m lying on. I don’t have any strength to move anymore. I’ve used it all up walking and stumbling without a sense of direction. I try lifting my head, moving my arms one last time, trying to grab anything other than dirt. It only lasts a few moments. I know it is all in vain. There is nothing around me for miles. As far as the eye can see, there are only far away mountains, dying plants, and absolutely nothing. And this is where I am supposed to die.
Do I deserve this?
I thought I was doing a good thing. I thought I was on the right side of the moral compass. I guess not. Or maybe I have done all the good I was destined to and it is time to leave this God forsaken world. Maybe I am finally getting the much-needed rest that I so desperately need. After years of doing what I do, of helping others, I finally get to close my eyes. It just so happens that this rest will be definite. The sun continues to burn my skin, my eyelids do nothing against the overbearing rays. When I open my eyes there is a blue tint on everything. I keep them closed instead. It’s as if the sun is determined to burn right through my lids. My hat was lost somewhere along the way. Either when I was kicked off the carriage or when I first started my journey. I wish I had it now. Some shade would be nice.
I doze off and come back with even less strength than before.
I know the next time I doze off there will be no coming back. That is just the way it will be. And I’ve had enough time to accept that. I’m going to die and that is okay with me. I welcome it at this point. I’ve lived my life and it’s okay if this is where my chapter ends. Unless I go to Hell. Yet, I don’t think there is anything worse waiting for me on the other side.
I do awaken again
Though I really did believe that I’ve said my last goodbyes. But no, here I am. Wherever here is.
It is hard to open my eyes but the dark room makes it manageable. I am in a bedroom. Rays of light creep in through the cracks around the wooden planks. The window is placed so that the sun doesn’t directly hit it. There is only a chair, a drawer, and the bed that I’m on. I’m completely naked on this bed. The only thing covering me are bandages with ointment on my burns. I know they’re specifically on my burns because trying to move feels like flames licking every inch of my skin. My muscles ache but that is nothing compared to the pain of the blisters on my skin. This feels much worse than death. I turn my head slightly in search of some water.
The only door to the room opens and in walks an older woman.
She has bright red hair, fair skin, and is really short. Even from my angle, I know she wouldn’t come up to my shoulder. I catch a glimpse of her plain brown eyes. Her look is severe but I don’t think she is a threat. She can’t be if she took mercy on my sorry soul.
“You’re awake.” Her no nonsense tone matches her plain features. Her long gray dress adds to her subdued mood. Her eyes do not stray over my naked body. She’s unbothered in that aspect. As to my presence, that is something else entirely.
“Where-” My voice comes out in puffs of sand. I really need water. “Where am I?”
“A long way from any town worth mentioning. And about a two-day trip to California.” She comes to my side, dragging the chair with her.
She hands me a small container of water and I chug it as fast as I can. No drop is wasted. I need more.
“California?” Doesn’t ring a bell. I need to distract myself from the thirst. God, I wish I was dead.
She tends to my bandages and starts to switch them out for new ones.
“I guess you probably missed the news while you were traveling on foot in the middle of nowhere.” She reprimands me. It is hard not to hang my head as if I actually did something bad. “Got a new state under our belt.”
A new state. I heard talk but I guess I did miss the news. Is this state just as bad as all the other southern states or do they have more sense? What side of the line do they reside in with regards to the slavery?
“Were you running to get your hands on some gold too?” She stops tending to my burns to look at me.
No. Absolutely not.
“Yes.” I lie.
Her hair is styled in a braid to keep it out of her face. A small strand has escaped the rest and brushes against her cheek. It’s curly. And very red. She is not as plain as I first suspected. She could be considered pretty. If she wasn’t so serious, that is.
“They won’t let you stay if you show up.” She escort london talks down to me again.
Obviously. Which is why I usually try to pass off as a man. Wearing pants instead of dresses. Most buy it, but then again, most haven’t seen me buck naked as she has.
“It would only take a matter of seconds before they realized you’re not a man.” She gathers her supplies and stands. “Cutting your hair, pressing your breast against you, and wearing men’s clothing won’t help you where you’re going.”
I watch as she leaves the room.
The next couple of days pass by more or less the same.
I get one, maybe two meals in between but I know she would rather save that for herself. She’s not selfish. Hell, she took me in when I would have been better left for dead. But my guess is she has just enough to get by. From the little I have seen, which has not been much but this room and the outhouse, she has the bare necessities to live. No extravagant furniture, clothing, silverware. Just useful tools to plant vegetables, a pail to get water, old boots to travel in. I’ve pretty much been reduced to being as helpful as the bent spoon she lets me use. Probably even less than that because at least a spoon has a purpose.
She leaves in the mornings and comes back during midday. I hear a small choir in the far distance during that time. It’s not a church. Must be a school. I can see how she would be a teacher. She reminds me of one of my own tutors growing up. That lady could silence a room full of rowdy children with a lift of a brow.
Her house is somewhat secluded. The other houses, that are about a quarter mile out, are built closer together. No one has come by to visit her, at least no one that she has bothered inviting inside. I haven’t heard a man’s voice this whole time. She lives completely alone. Something about that seems off to me. Even though her stern looks can make me feel 10 inches tall, she is still a sight for sore eyes, I would know. Each day I find another thing that makes her beautiful like the curve of her neck, her full lips, and most definitely the size of her breasts. I can bet my liver any man would take a beating to have her as his wife. Even if she’s doing the beating. Who am I kidding? Especially if she’s doing the beating.
On the sixth day as she is changing my bandages, this time I have a thin blanket to cover my nakedness, she sucks her teeth.
“We’re down to two days’ worth of food.” She doesn’t hide her displeasure. “I was on my way to get more food when I found you on the side of the road. But obviously I had to cut that trip short and I never made it.”
This is the most information she’s shared with me.
“I can go get us some more.” I attempt to sit up but her look stops me alone.
“With what money?” Her southern accent should scare me, especially in that sassy tone that she is using, but it has an uncalled-for effect on me.
I’ve dealt with prissy, angry women ready to claw a person’s eyes out for one wrong look. All I had to do was remind them who was in charge and they turned into the most docile little kittens I could play with. It takes a great deal of effort not to look down at her cleavage peeking from her neckline. Or to drag her across my knee and show her some manners. But I remember my place. I’m an inconvenience here. I’ve already overstayed my welcome. I’ve never felt like this before.
“I’m good for it if you let me borrow some.” My tone is gruff.
I know I should be thankful. I should be singing praises from the highest mountain that I’m not dead. That I didn’t die on the side of the road like those assholes expected me to. The thought of them turns my stomach but I push them from my head. I will get my revenge when the time comes.
“How do you expect to travel with your skin the way it is?” Her harsh look is heightened by her clear brown eyes. It’s odd to see a redhead with brown eyes. Usually, they have blue or green eyes that reflect their souls. This one is all boxed up away and I’m sure as Hell not the one intended to see it. I stop trying anyway.
“You let me worry about that.” I move to sit up but she tries to push me down again. My hand comes out in reflex and I grab her arm, twisting it so she’s forced to lean into me. “Don’t do that again.” I add just enough warning to set her straight.
Her cheeks turn a bright red and her freckles seem to take on a color of their own.
She yanks her arm away and scurries out.
The next day she pokes her head in to let me know she’ll be gone for two days.
That is how long it will take her to travel to and from the nearest town with a hearty variety of tools, meat, and whatever else she needs to get. I don’t say anything because I don’t think I’m expected to. It is nice to be trusted in her home but we both know there’s nothing worth anything here. As soon as she leaves the house I get up and go to the window to see her leaving in a carriage. There are two others in it. Do they make it a community dubai escorts outing while they’re at it?
As I suspected, there is nothing worth stealing. Not that I planned to. Maybe. Okay, well probably. But I would pay her back as soon as I could come up with the money, I just need enough to go right back where I came from. Her room is very similar to the one I’m in. Except this one has a wardrobe and a small table. I look through it and find a man’s clothing. It is a little loose on me but I make it work by rolling up the sleeves and using some suspenders. A quick look in a faded mirror shows me what I expected to see. My face is peeling, lips are still chapped, I look ridiculous in these clothes but what can I expect? My brown hair is long enough to cover my face. My skin is shades darker than usual and my dark brown eyes are empty. No determination for the day just yet, I need food.
Once I drink some water, I make myself useful and start looking for things to do around the house. It’s already clean. She left it dust free and visitor worthy. Not sure why since I don’t intend on entertaining anyone in the next two days. I walk towards the stove and see a small portion of eggs on the pan. A small piece of bread on a plate next to it. She did expect me to get up then. I eat in silence, thinking about my current situation.
I heard of the gold boom from those traveling west. I took the news with a grain of salt. How much of it can there be left if we were one of the last ones to hear about it? If I did make it though I could get more money to send back to our crew. We could use any little bit that we come by. Possibly help some more families along the way. It’s hard not to picture all of the tears and handshakes and silent grateful gestures from those that we’ve been successful in freeing. I have to go back and finish what I started.
After washing my plate, I take the leftover clean water and give myself a run down with a refreshing cloth. My skin is still tender from the sun and some of it feels hotter than other parts but it is needed. I feel like a new person.
The little glint of determination comes back in my eyes. Time to work.
No one comes by to bother me all morning.
I do see some people in the far distance staring at me as I cut through some wood, sand it down, place it against the patio, and start plowing away with a hammer. I wear a hat as I tend to the dying garden in her front lawn, to avoid the heat from the sun and her neighbor’s stares. Both of which are just as annoying. I find the most useful thing to do is try to clean up the mess she made. I can see she wants to grow potatoes but she has it all wrong. I start to set it up and try to salvage as much as I can with the help of her trusty horse. I never got around to asking for his name so I just call him Jerry. He listens well enough when a cube of sugar is involved. The poor thing looks more like a donkey than he does a stallion. His mane isn’t shiny, it’s more like hay caked in dry mud. He has a slight limp on his rear leg, so I try not to push him too hard. I feed the chickens and check the coop for any eggs, I find a few. She must have taken some out before leaving. For someone who leaves for two days she’s very comfortable leaving her animals unattended. My guess is that I was probably expected to get up and help a lot sooner.
Others continue to stare in the distance and I fight the urge to stick my tongue out at them. Any other helpful neighbor would have stopped her from committing this atrocity on her plot of land but I can see they prefer to talk behind their clean hands. I give Jerry a nice lump of sugar and a much-earned massage on his limp leg. I look down at his hooves and notice they’re outgrowing the metal shoes he has been given. That will be something else I can take care of tomorrow.
I walk across to the water pump and grind my way through getting only half the bucket filled after some time. For all that is Holy, how in the world does she do this every morning? Yeah, I can see how me sitting in bed drinking this cool water can rub her the wrong way. But that will be a mere thing of the past. No more sitting around for me. I’ll make sure of it.
“It helps if you have a partner.” A girl says behind me.
I wipe my brow and remove my hat to get a better look at her. Not a girl, a young lady. Probably not even in her twenties yet. She has plain brown hair tied with a light blue ribbon behind her back. It matches her dress, which doesn’t quite reach her ankles. She definitely dresses like a child. Her pale blue eyes are lighter than the color she’s wearing.
“You’re a woman?” She turns her head, not sure if she is seeing correctly.
I nod and point back to the bucket. “You can help me fill it?”
She stops staring and raises a metal object for me to see. It looks like another end of a pump that can be added to this one. She comes to put it next to the handle already in place. Her hands are slightly shaking as I watch her do this. She’s Escort Dubai done it enough times that she can probably do it with her eyes closed but I’m sure I’m not helping by staring her down.
“Here.” She guides my hand to one end and I watch as she goes back to her end.
We pump in silence. It is like a small seesaw for your hands but a lot less fun.
“I do this every morning with Miss Lydia before school.” Her fair cheeks are beginning to turn pink from standing under the sun and straining against the metal.
“Is she married?” Maybe widowed, it would explain why she still holds onto his clothes. Not wanting to let their love die and all of that.
“Mister Archie left west a little under a year ago. I know it has been hard for Miss Lydia.” She stops pumping and takes the handle off once we got a good amount of water in the bucket. “She said someone was visiting but didn’t say who.”
I stay silent, not sure what I feel comfortable sharing with her. She could run back to town and start rumors about me. I mean, of course, that is the first thing she’s going to do as soon as she gets back. This town has maybe a total population of 80 and I am probably the most interesting thing that has come through in a while. No one decides to move here, if anything, they would all rather move away. I look over my shoulder and see more have gathered around in the distance. They are just waiting to dig their teeth into the juicy new gossip as soon as she gets back.
“I’m Kit.” I take my hand out and she shakes it.
She gives me a toothy smile. “Nice to meet you Kit. I’m Jody.” She bends her knees to give me a little curtsy.
“I’ll see you around, Jody.” I pick up the bucket and put my hat back on.
“Will we see you in church tomorrow?” She tries to call my attention back.
“I don’t think so.” I pull the patio door open and let it shut behind me.
I’m cleaning out the chicken coop the next morning when I hear the carriage coming up the hill.
I wipe my hands and wipe the sweat from my brow. I look back at the house and see if there is a noticeable difference. Although I did do some good work fixing boards and door hinges, the changes aren’t noticeable. Maybe the garden but only the dead plants are missing. She won’t be able to see what I have planted yet. To the human eye it looks the exact same, if she pays enough attention, she’ll notice the difference as soon as she steps on the porch.
I drop the shovel and walk over to the carriage when I see her red head pop out. She has bags in each arm. I make it in time to see the other passenger, an older fat fellow giving her an appreciative glace. I take a bag from her and motion for her to walk ahead of me. She looks surprised to see me outside the bedroom she left me in but doesn’t say anything.
I turn back and give the gentleman a long look before turning back. He doesn’t know what to make of me. A woman, dressed as a man, wearing men’s clothing, with short hair. I may as well be a dog walking on its hind legs pretending to be human for entertainment.
She stops for a moment as she pulls the door open. No creak from the floorboards below and no squeak from the door above. “I see you’ve been busy.” Her tone is not as angry as she intended it to be. I give myself a mental pat on the back.
“I figured if I can’t pay you back with money, I can earn my plate by helping around the house.” I place the bag on the table and sit down on one of the chairs.
She moves around putting things away, refilling empty jars with spices and herbs.
I take her sight in. I hate to admit it but it is nice to have someone around. Just to talk to, even if it is only for a moment. She’s also not the worst thing to stare at. I look down at her cleavage and shift in my chair. Her breasts are a nice healthy size. They move up and down as she picks things off the shelves. With each intake of her breath, they move to and from her neckline. She turns her back towards me and my eyes fall to the curve of her ass, which is also as bountiful as her breasts. She has the perfect amount of everything to hang onto and dive into.
“I’ll be going to bed now.” I reluctantly get up from my seat. I can’t be staring at her like a starving woman in front of a nice meal.
“Aren’t you hungry?” She turns back to look at me. There is a slight frown on her lips.
“I’m actually a lot more tired than I am hungry.” I am very hungry. Ravenous even. But not for what she has in mind.
I wave my hand and walk back to my room.
I wake up to the sound of crying a few nights later.
It’s not loud. I don’t even hear a sniffle honestly but I know it’s her. I’ve been trained to sleep with one ear open and I can’t help but be in tune with her. I know she wouldn’t take any type of comfort I could try to offer her. If I even tried to walk into her room right now, she would probably shoot me with the rifle she keeps under her bed, just within arm’s reach. Not because she would be frightened, but because I would be offending her by offering her a shoulder to lean on. She’s tough as nails and won’t like that I catch her in a moment of weakness. Helping out around the house is one thing, offering emotional support is quite another.
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