|Posted: December 9, 2011|
|I made arrangements for my dad’s funeral. All of the town’s people came out to show their support. Ethan was by my side the entire time. I think he felt guilty for not being with me the night Dad died. I told him it happened so fast and it was unexpected. He was here now and that’s what mattered.
I had my dad buried next to Mother. There was nowhere else for him to be. I replaced her headstone with a double one to represent them both. Below their names, I put the inscription ‘Eternal love will never die’. Somehow, I knew they were together again in heaven. They were young and happy, laughing and loving each other as they once did. I was happy for them.
A week after the funeral, Ethan and I were sitting at the kitchen table. I could tell something was on his mind. Neither one of us had discussed what would happen next. I tried to avoid it as long as possible but I couldn’t any longer.
“I can’t stay much longer.” he started. “I have to get back. I have put off my job as long as I can.”
“You know I can’t leave yet, Ethan. There are too many loose ends to tie up. I have to make sure Dad’s things are in order before I leave.”
“What are you going to do with this place?” he asked. There was a tone to his voice that said I was crazy to keep it. “You can’t manage the farm on your own. Who will you hire to run it? You need to think about this. Maybe not right now, but soon.”
His words upset me. Did he expect me to just throw up a For Sale sign and hope for the best? This was my home. This was my families’ home. I couldn’t just sell it and not consider what my mother and dad told me. It was my responsibility now. I had to keep it in the family. Selling this land was not an option and it angered me that Ethan could be so blunt. “I will not sell it Ethan.” I said with a fire in my tone. “I don’t know what I’m going to do with it but I know I have to keep it.”
Ethan got up from the table and came to me. He massaged my shoulders, realizing the stress I was under. “Alright. I don’t want to argue with you. Do what you think is best. All I’m asking is that you give it some thought.” Then he took my hand and pulled me up to stand next to him. He wrapped his arms around me and kissed my neck. “Come on. It’s late and I have to leave tomorrow. This might be the last time we’re together for a while.” His hot breath caressed my shoulder and I could not resist him. I let him lead me to my bedroom. We lay naked in each other’s arms for a while as he whispered sweet nothings in my ear. Soon he had me worked up and forgetting my troubles. We made passionate love through the night, many times in fact. He soothed my worried mind if only for a little while. And in the back of my mind, I wondered if he would ever honor his promise.
* * *
Two weeks passed and I was buried in paperwork. Dad was not good at filing. I found out that he was behind on his bills. The severe heat and dry weather last growing season took its toll. For a while now, he was barely making ends meet. It didn’t help that he had to hire help. The added expense was proving to be too much of a strain. My brain was aching from all of this. I decided to go for a walk. I grabbed a backpack, threw some fruit in it along with water and a change of clothes. I was going to the forest for a walk. It wasn’t quite hunting season yet. I remembered what my mother told me about that time of year. It still upset me that these men came onto our land. They were trespassing and it pissed me off.
I entered the woods and headed for the pond. It seemed exceptionally quiet. Something didn’t feel right. I came to the pond and my heart rose to my throat. Lying next to the bushes on the opposite side of the pond was the body of a deer. The head was missing and there was a gunshot wound to the chest. “Oh no. Please don’t be him. Please.” I begged to no one. It was a gruesome sight. There was a lot of blood and I was worried about scavengers coming in for the kill. I approached cautiously.
Now, it is a known fact that the life expectancy of a white tailed deer is at most fifteen years. My little deer friend from so long ago would be fifteen now. It was not often they lived this long. Usually eight years was normal. I prayed that it was not him but they went unanswered. As I looked down, I saw the old scar from the leg wound. My stomach fell and I felt sick. It was him. He had cheated death as a fawn and lived a long life, only to meet this kind of disrespectful end. I felt the acid turning in my stomach as my mouth filled with saliva. Running to the nearby bushes, I emptied the contents from my breakfast on the forest floor. I was so distraught; I couldn’t even conjure up any tears. My anger rose quickly. I knew my dad never came out here. It had probably been years since anyone came out here besides hunters. Now I come to find out that they are not only disrespecting my family and my land, but they are not following the laws either. As I searched for any sign of who they were, I found their hiding spot. There was a pile of empty beer cans and cigarette butts in an area close to a spot where a tent might have been erected. They were nothing more than a bunch of low life, no good men out to do what they pleased. I couldn’t let them continue to abuse my land. Mother never did anything about it. Dad said nothing could be done. Well, I was not going to take it lying down any longer. My anger stayed with me until I came back to the deer. It dawned on me that they only wanted him for his antlers. He would have had quite a rack at his age, a wonderful prize for a hunter. Don’t get me wrong. I think there is nothing wrong with people who hunt and only take what they will use for food. But this killing was just that. Only the head was missing. The rest of the body was intact. This was a useless death of a magnificent animal. He was old and probably didn’t have much longer. He did not deserve this kind of an end.
I drug the body away from the lake to a place beneath some small trees. I worked through the night with dirt and tears streaking my face, placing stones on top of the body to bury him. When I was done, I sat down next to my friend’s grave and silently swore to avenge his unworthy death.
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