She stared at the ruins of a once beautiful farm house and memories came, flashing back in an instant yet spanning years. Over there once stood a beautiful pair of oak trees with a swing between them for her to play on. She could still hear the echoes of her mother telling her to be careful as she climbed them. Skinned knees and scraped palms; she never complained over the slivers her mother had to remove from her tomboyish activities. Their shade provided her endless hours of escape from the relentless sun and still she would burn from it. The wind would part the leaves and the sun would beat down between them. Her imagination could play for hours as she gazed up through them, envisioning them as towering giants and she a mere mortal. She loved those trees.
“I can’t believe you climb like a monkey, and in a dress too!” her mother would scold. She remembered that fondly, the inflections, the lilt in her voice was still in her consciousness despite the span of years.
The house still tilted haphazardly. Weather and time hadn’t pulled it to the ground and for this she was surprised as she stared at its sturdy build. Her great-grandparents had been among the first to build in this area and had used good wood and stone to construct their sturdy home. Their son and granddaughter had both raised families in this house. She scowled as she remembered she had been the last raised in this house.
It look well picked over. The weeds around the place were elbow high and although she hadn’t seen it in over twenty years, she couldn’t help but wonder why it hadn’t been torn down before; which was why she was now here.
“Ms. Avril?” a voice asked her respectfully and she started in surprise. She hadn’t heard anyone approach. “Oh, I’m sorry miss, I was expecting…” he began apologizing.
“It’s okay, you just startled me,” she said in precise and clear tones, not a hint of the accent that was unique to this part of the country and so apparent in his voice. That accent brought back other memories. Ones she’d tried to quash and couldn’t. Ones that she’d known needed exorcising, and that could only be done by coming here. It was why she had come herself. She needed to stop the dreams that had returned. Her feeling was that it was in the past and it should remain there. Her psyche though was haunting her and she had to face it, one last time.
“I was expecting Ms. Avril,” he began again, and peered at her intently and wondering who she was. He was shorter than she, his skin brown from the winds that blew here; he was stooped from a lifetime of work.
She smiled, not realizing the beauty that was apparent in her face. Her pale white skin hid the freckles that came out in the sun, but no tan touched her creamy milk white skin anymore. “I’m A…Avril,” she answered hesitating over the name for only a millisecond. ‘Or, I was,’ she mentally corrected herself, but not aloud, he wouldn’t understand.
“You’re Ms. Avril?” he asked puzzled. He peered at her for a long time shaking his head, trying to see some semblance of the youth he had known. As her smile faded, he saw a glimmer of recognition. Not of her but of her mother and that was when he took on a relieved look. His hat came off his head in an instant and his weathered face wreathed a smile showing several missing teeth. “Why Ms. Avril, you’ve all growed up!” he drawled, pleased at his discovery.
“How are you, Mr. Davidson?” she asked pleasantly. The smile didn’t quite reach her eyes though. Not with the memories pushing at her temples wanting her to remember, to relive them; all the while she was trying hard to once again suppress them.
“Poorly,” he said honestly. “Right poorly, but I aim to do the job you is needing done. I shorely do. Just like I promised.” He gestured to the truck that was parked at the end of the drive. On the trailer attached to it sat a front end loader, securely chained to its bed.
She glanced at it, then back at the house he had come to demolish. It was the town’s attempt at getting rid of an ‘eyesore’ that had sat there empty for over two decades. Why they had decided that it needed to be done now, she didn’t know. But she was here, as requested, to get it done. Mr. Davidson had answered her call, surprised that she remembered him. He was eager to earn the money she had promised him for the job.
“Do you want to go through the house to look for anything?” he asked, as he noticed her silently staring at the house.
She shook her head. She had done her picking long ago, her few belongings in a few measly boxes and trunks, and a storage unit she had come to go through as well, a lifetime of memories and knick knacks that meant nothing to anyone but herself. “Just bulldoze it,” she said shortly, wanting it taken care of so she could leave.
“You’ll have to move your car,” he mentioned, as they turned to head back down the driveway.
She glanced at the Maserati and nearly laughed aloud at the contrast between it and his old rusted out Chevy. She hadn’t thought of that when she decided to drive back here. If she hadn’t before, she would surely stick out like a sore thumb now. Another reason to get the job finished and get out, get gone. Something she had done years ago and not looked back. She glanced over at the barns and silos. They still looked as solid as the day her great-grandparents and grandparents had built them. Nothing had touched them, not time, nor weather, they seemed to be as strong and steady as the day they were built. They could use a little paint, but with the weather that came through this part of the country it was amazing they were still standing. She could see they were used well by the tracks that led from the path up to them and down the driveway, but that was all. Everything else was abandoned, the chicken coop, and a few other outbuildings. The grass overgrown and obviously untrodden, no animals or people to grind it under their heels.
“Can you tear down those too?” she asked as she gestured to the outbuildings not in use.
“Ahyup,” he grunted as they reached her overpriced car and she automatically pressed the button on her keychain to open the door and let her in. He glanced at the car as the door opened quietly and on its own for her, expensive enough to pay a couple of year’s salary to someone like him, and most folks around here. It was none of his business though so he hurried over to the trailer where another man stood, awaiting orders. “Let’s get her down,” he gestured to him, and they immediately began removing the chains holding the machine to the bed of the trailer.
The younger man kept watch out of the corner of his eye as the redhead drove the expensive sports car onto the road. She parked it opposite the driveway so they could drive the front end loader onto the property. She was definitely worth a second and third look and he wondered if she remembered him as she watched his uncle maneuver the heavy machine off the trailer. She caught him staring as she got out of the car and he felt his cheeks reddening. He hurried after his uncle to collect any boards worth salvaging hoping she hadn’t noticed. She had said they could take whatever they wanted.
She followed along slowly and looked down at her Prada shoes knowing she should have dressed down for the farm, but after twenty years she had nothing appropriate to wear on such a place. She hadn’t thought about it as the miles passed and she headed for this part of Oklahoma.
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