Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Chapter 25

Chapter 25

All three of us cleaned up the dishes to make it go faster. I enjoyed the fun of having a special dinner but not having all the extra dishes and another room to clean up. I wanted to have more such fun times but not every night. Abel agreed.

Dog didn’t seem to mind; the dining room was a new place to explore and she vacuumed up the few crumbs that had made it to the floor. She did get a dust bunny on her rump and Daniel laughed and had to chase her down to get it off because she kept turning in circles, never quite able to reach the foul beastie that had latched onto her bottom.

By the time Abel and I finished the last few things, put them away, and got to the family room the two of them were half asleep in front of the fire. Rather than sit down only to have to get up and carry him to bed Abel and I carted him off and made sure he washed up good and got his PJs on. Since he’d played out in the tall grass I gave him a good going over looking for ticks.

“You must be as sour as those candies you used to like to eat. I never find ticks on you,” I grumped at him in fun. He only hooted which told me he really was tired so I told him to crawl into bed.

For some reason when I got back to family room I was close to tears. Abel saw and jumped up, “Querida, is something wrong?”

I flapped my hand at him and told him, “Oh sit down. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. It’s just … he’s my little brother only now he’s as tall as me and … and he doesn’t even ask for stories at bed time anymore. Now you tell me that I’m holding him back only it doesn’t seem I can stop him from growing up. Everything is changing so fast. And this is totally stupid and I must be losing my mind because this makes no sense.”

I didn’t cry, not really. I really didn’t know what the problem was. The whole point was to make sure that Daniel survived just like Dad had wanted. I just hadn’t understood that succeeding would hurt so much.

Abel said quietly as we sat on the sofa, “I did not mean to make you cry Day-cee.”

“I know … and you aren’t why I’m being silly. I don’t know why I’m feeling so strange. The whole point was to take care of Daniel and finish raising him the way Dad would want. I guess I just never thought about this part of it. I got comfortable with thinking things would always be a version of what they used to be … but I’m beginning to think that isn’t true. Daniel needs to grow up; I need to let him grow up. But that’s not all of it.”

Rubbing my hand Abel seemed to be afraid to make me cry more but he asked, “What is the rest?”

I looked at him and said, “Things can’t keep going the same way forever. Daniel isn’t the only one that I need to let grow up. I need … to let myself grow up as well. Only I’m not sure I know what that means for me anymore.”

I could see Abel didn’t know what to say to that. I sighed. I’m not sure what I expected him to say but I thought he’d say something. When things got too quiet between us I told him, “I have a full day tomorrow. ‘Nite.” He grunted something in return and that was all.

I got up the next morning and things were the same as they always had been but yet not. I fixed breakfast. We laughed. We talked about what we wanted to do that day and then we went off to do them. Yet … it was like something was there between us. I wondered if I was carrying a grudge or something but I tested my feelings and I wasn’t. I wondered if maybe I’d said something wrong but I thought it over and I hadn’t. I’d been honest and I hadn’t taken my feelings out on Abel.

Finally I noticed that work was just piling up while I stood around thinking and decided I’d figure it out later. All I did know for sure was that dealing with Abel was more complicated than dealing with Daniel and if I had trouble figuring how to work with Daniel, figuring out Abel was just way too out there for me.

To get my mind off of it I focused on the most needful things in the grow rooms. First off I had a bushel basket of beets to do something with. After washing them I set aside some beet greens for our meals and the rest went into the compost pile that I was trying to build. It went into a tumbler that was in the warmest of the grow rooms but even then it took a long time to make, a lot longer than if it had the sun to heat it up.

The greens I didn’t plan to use fresh I canned up in some pint jars like I would have any greens that came out of the garden. We ate them all; collard, mustard, kale, chard, and more. I even canned dandelion greens last spring before they got so hard to come by.

After the greens I had the red bulbs to deal with. I canned jars of plain beets, some pickled beets, and one of Momma’s specialties; beet jelly. I cooked the beets and then mashed them to get six cups of beet juice. I added a half cup of canned lemon juice because I was saving the powdered stuff for when the canned ran out. Then I added two boxes of sure-jel. It made me nervous to wonder what I would do when all the sure-jel ran out but since there wasn’t any fruit to can I wasn’t in danger of doing that any time soon. Momma bought the stuff by the case for canning season because she used to sell a lot at the farmer’s market.

I brought all of the stuff I’d mixed into the beet juice to a boil for one minute and then added eight cups of white sugar and two small boxes of raspberry jell-o and brought it back to a boil and then boiled it for a full five minutes more. Then I poured it into jelly jars and processed them in a boiling water bath.

I didn’t bother with lunch because Abel had taken Daniel out and they were going to eat only the forage that Daniel could find. I wasn’t worried about that so much since Daniel had been doing that sort of thing with Momma and me since he was born but I did worry that maybe he wouldn’t mind Abel. Turns out that was one worry I didn’t need to have.

I moved onto the next thing in the grow rooms that needed work and that was the pepper room. That was Daniel’s special project; the colors and shapes of the peppers fascinated him but I couldn’t let them stay on the plants anymore, some were already too far gone and I would need to use them for next season’s seed. Daniel had a way with plants; I think he got that from Momma. I like plants and gardening but it turned out that Daniel had a real talent for it; thank goodness one of us thought of it as more than a chore.

First thing was I took some of each different kind … the sweet and the hot peppers … and put them on the drying trays that Dad built into the kitchen to work off of passive heat form the stove. Next I decided to start some Artillery Jam by using six big red bell peppers. I seeded and chopped them, then ground them up coarsely into a bowl; next I sprinkled them with two tablespoons of salt, covered the bowl and set it aside. I’d finish the jam the next day by draining off half the liquid that formed and putting what was left in the bowl into a heavy saucepan with a cup of cider vinegar and two cups of white sugar. I’d bring the mess to a boil and then turn it down to simmer and stir it off and on for an hour to keep it from scorching. When it had thickened I would take it off the heat and add a drop or two of red food coloring until the mixture was bright, bright red. Then I’d put it in small jelly jars and process like any kind of jam or jelly.

We didn’t eat Artillery Jam on toast or biscuits but on crackers with cheese. Momma had said you didn’t have to have fruit to have something special and she was right. In fact it was her specialty jams and jellies that she always won ribbons for at the fair. I pulled out her “Blue Ribbon” recipe book and made a list of them that I wanted to make. The secret ingredient that made Carrot Jelly bright orange was a package of orange koolaide. Hot pepper jelly was one of Dad’s favorites, especially when she made it with jalapenos. The Garlic Jelly won a blue ribbon so often she stopped entering it in the contests. Horseradish Jelly was really good on sandwiches and is much better than it sounds. Purple Hull Jelly was good to use the leftover cooking water from the peas. I could make Sassafras Jelly using honey; it tasted a little like sarsaparilla soda without the bubbles. Onion Jelly and Zucchini Jam went on the list as well. But there wasn’t time to make any because I needed to start dinner.

I’d been cooking all day so I decided just to make acorn muffins and heat soup up. I needn’t have bothered with either and could have just make myself some nut butter crackers. When I heard them coming in I stepped into the hallway only to have Daniel barrel into me and grab me in a bear hug.

“Goodness gracious!”

I thought at first he was upset but he was grinning like crazy and said, “Abel said I did real good Dacey … real, real good. We’re stuffed! I want pickles for dinner. I’m full and I only want pickles. I want something sour Dacey. I’m dying for something sour. We worked hard!”

I looked over at Abel and it was obvious he was as tired as Daniel was wired. I asked, “But what about what Abel wants?”

“Abel is full too and only wants a shower,” he mumbled.

Daniel laughed. “Abel fell in skunk cabbage. He smells Dacey!”

Well that explained a little why he was so standoffish. Trying not to laugh too I said, “I’ll … uh … bring you … uh … a towel.”

He hunched his shoulders and marched off towards the bathroom. I looked at Daniel and asked him quickly, “Daniel, you didn’t push him did you?”

He shook his head and said, “There was a little pig. Abel was trying to catch him and it ran through his legs and when he tried to grab it he fell over.” He laughed again. “It sure was funny Dacey. He rolled in the skunk cabbage but didn’t know what he was doing. How come he’s big and doesn’t know about skunk cabbage Dacey?”

Biting the inside of my cheek to stop myself from smiling I told him, “You know, it isn’t nice to laugh at people like that Daniel. Did he catch the pig?”

Daniel nodded, “Abel was laughing too until he figured out it wasn’t the pig that smelled but him, then he stopped laughing. How come he stopped laughing Dacey? Stinky is stinky.”

I nearly strangled trying to explain to Daniel that it was different when it was you that was stinky. Daniel didn’t get it but accepted the explanation anyway. I grabbed a basket for Abel’s clothes and took some clean towels to him like I said I would.

I knocked on the door and heard him snap, “What?!”

“Uh … I brought you some clean towels … and there’s a basket for your clothes.”

“Fine,” he barked. “Leave them.”

Well, if that didn’t beat all. I left him to clean up and went to check Daniel for ticks but he told me that Abel had already done it. After making sure he’d washed up I gave him some sour pickles and then watched him wind down like a clock when he sat still long enough for his fatigue to catch up.

It was easy enough to convince Daniel to go to bed. From all I’d pulled out of him it sounded like they had tramped over the whole valley though I knew that couldn’t be true. I took Daniel’s dirty clothes and watched Dog go to find Abel who hadn’t left the clothes outside the bathroom like I’d expected. I looked in the bathroom and they weren’t there either and neither was the basket.

I went to his room and knocked on the door. There was no answer. I knocked again and called his name. No answer so I opened the door and walked in. Boy howdy! There was Abel lying across the bed face down with only a towel wrapped around his middle.

I didn’t have time to get a good look because he flew up trying to keep the towel in place and yelled, “Out!”

Well, I wasn’t going to be yelled at. “I knocked twice and you didn’t answer. I thought you went to the kitchen or something.”

He strangled another, “Out!” although this time he didn’t yelp quite so much.

“I will when you tell me what you did with your dirty clothes basket.”

He was muttering in Spanish and then pointed to the floor behind me. I dumped Daniel’s dirty clothes into it and then some wild hare bit me and I looked at him as I went out the door and said, “Well, at least your legs are hairier than mine are.”

I shut the door on a lot more Spanish and giggled all the way to the wash room. The look on his face had been worth any embarrassment that I had felt when I first went in the room and realized he was in there. I set the clothes to soak and boy was Abel’s really rank. I fought more giggles because I didn’t want to inhale the skunk cabbage odor any more than I already had.

I was still smiling when I walked into the kitchen and found Abel getting something to drink. A giggle escaped no matter how much I tried to hold it in and he stood up straight and asked, “Have you no shame?!”

Well if that didn’t unplug my funny bone nothing was going to. Abel had never really seen the backside of my temper. Not only did I try and behave nicely with him but he’d never done anything to set me off. The few times he’s seen a little bit of it all the energy was being directed at someone besides him … like the Blue Hats. I don’t think he even realized that most of what I did to them wasn’t out of moral outrage but due to plain old anger.

Looking at Abel I felt like I had the time I’d tried to turn one of Dad’s bunnies into a pet and after weeks of it being a gentle, fluffy armful it jumped up and bit my nose when I got too close. His next words only fanned the flames. “First last night you try and push me to my limits and make me do something that I have told you time and again that you are too young for and now today you push me again by walking into the room while I was changing.”

Ping! I blew just like a steam valve on a pressure canner. “Now you just wait one doggone minute. If you are saying what I think you are saying you better duck because I’m that close to throwing something at you. First off I wasn’t trying to get you to do anything; I thought I could talk to you about stuff. If you turned it into something dirty then that was you, not me, ‘cause I sure wasn’t thinking about what you apparently were. Second, before going into your room I knocked not once but twice and called your name too. You could have said you were in there but you didn’t. I did not walk in and make you think anything, again that was you Buster. And you weren’t changing, you were half way asleep and I would have left you alone if you hadn’t sprung up like someone had pinched your backside.”

“See! There you say such things again!”

“Argh! You know, I thought only girls got hormonal once a month … obviously I was wrong. Let me know when you get over it and you decide to act like you’ve got sense.”

He made an outrage squawk when he figured out what I was talking about and opened his mouth like he was going to say something but I threw the dishcloth at his head and stomped out of the kitchen and off to the grow rooms.

Dog found me there a few minutes later and stayed around to commiserate with me. I told her, “You know, I think maybe he must have eaten something bad while he was out with Daniel today. Or maybe he’s always just been brain damaged and I’m just getting around to noticing it. I can’t believe he would say stuff like that. You are so lucky you don’t have to deal with boy dogs and puppies.” I knew that Dog was “fixed” from the small scar hidden under the fur on her belly.

A voice from the door made me turn with a jerk. “Am I the dog or the puppy?”

I gave a good imitation of a warning growl and told Abel, “Go away.”

He sighed. “Not until I have apologized.”

“Fine, consider it done. Now leave me alone.”

He turned to leave which was just fine by me then he turned around and came over. “Day-cee, I am sorry. I … I ….” His shoulders slumped and he turned to leave again.

I was still hot and stood up and out of the row I was working on because I was still mad enough to stomp something and I wanted it to be Abel and not the plants. “I’m not stupid you know. It’s not like I don’t wonder about that stuff. But I know the difference between what’s safe and what isn’t. I never wanted to be one of those girls that made the boys all hot and bothered by acting silly. You were my friend first before all these other things started crowding in. I’m not so dumb as to wreck that up.”

He tried to say something but I wasn’t in the mood for listening. “And for another thing, I wouldn’t bait a bull.”

His mouth really did fall open at that. “Oh for pity sake don’t look so surprised. I’ll be sixteen next month and it wasn’t last century when I was born you know. I know about the birds and the bees.” At his confused look I rolled my eyes. “Sex. I know about sex. And uncross your eyes, it isn’t a dirty word. Just because I haven’t done anything with anyone doesn’t mean I don’t know how it works or the consequences. I wouldn’t get into a pen with a bull and tease it and I have more sense than to tease a boy … man … whatever, you know what I mean.”

He shook his head. “No Day-cee, I do not know what you mean.”

“Oh for crimany … Abel, I know it isn’t fair OK. Guys are just … just different. After a certain age the whole species seems to have sex on the brain most of the time and when it isn’t sex it is food and if it isn’t sex or food it’s cars … and when they go on dates with girls it seems to be all three at the same time. Guys show off to make themselves seem a better mate than other guys their age. Guys are always looking at themselves … it may not be in mirrors but they are as bad as girls when it comes to shiny surfaces. I swear Jeff would break his neck trying to get a last look before going in some place where he knew there would be girls around to admire him. Guys are just like farm animals that way; everything seems to be about the act of procreating in some way.”

Abel was really starting to wheeze but I didn’t care. “You know how many lectures I had to listen to from Momma and Dad?! Every time some girl in town did something stupid I had to hear about it. The worst was when one of the girls in my class got knocked … er … got pregnant. Momma was scandalized and Dad nearly had a fit. What made it worse was that it was one of my friends; I was twelve and she was thirteen. I tried to tell them that Charisse didn’t mean to and boy did that set them off and I had to listen to one lecture right after another about how ‘meaning to’ had nothing to do with it. I finally figured out it wasn’t really Charisse they were the worst upset with but her parents and the parents of the boy … the families blew it off like all the kids were doing it and it was just their kids that had the bad luck to get caught.” I shook my head remembering. “Charisse explained it all to us and trust me, none of us in my crowd of friends wanted to make the same mistake she did. She explained about the teasing and where it can lead so no way did I mean what you thought I meant and …”

Abel finally broke in saying, “Ok … Day-cee … OK. Do not say anymore. I was wrong.” He slunk off but I didn’t feel much better. After a while I realized it wasn’t so much that I was angry but that my feelings were hurt that he thought I was the kind of girl that would tease boys.

I gave up on the gardening; I was afraid I was going to ruin something. I cleaned up and went to the kitchen to do the dishes but they’d already been done. I didn’t think much of it so I went to change the water on the clothes only I found that’d been done too. I shook my head and went looking and found Abel filling the wood box in the family room.

“I was beginning to wonder if there was a brownie in the cave.”

Cautiously he asked, “A what?”

“It’s a kind of duende that helps around the house only no one can see it.”

Not sure what to make of that he said, “Oh.”

Finally giving into the urge I sighed and said, “Look, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have yelled. I just don’t know what I’ve ever done to make you think I was the kind of girl that would be mean to you like that.”

He shook his head. “You have not done anything. All of this … sometimes … it is more … harder ….” He snapped, “I am so tired of not having all the words I need.”

Feeling bad for him I said, “Then don’t make it hard, make it simple.”

He shook his head. “It is all too simple Day-cee. I want things. I have no … no rights to those things. You are too young. As you say, there are consecuencias.”

I flopped down on the sofa, tired of the argument but more upset that he was still feeling bad. “Abel, you are a guy … the way I understand it those things are just what guys your age think about whether they can help it or not.”

He sat on the floor and said, “Not … not right or wrong Day-cee … rights.” At my confused look he said, “Uh … persmissions … a thing that says that I can do something and it not be wrong … er … uh ….”

Getting slightly suspicious I couldn’t quite look him in the eye when I asked, “Are we talking about how you used to be so jumpy about there not being any of my family to say it was OK that we … er … hugged and kissed?”

He couldn’t quite look me in the eye either but did manage to clear his throat and said, “Si … I mean yes … yes that is what I mean.”

Quietly I reminded him, “Abel, there isn’t anyone to ask permission from except me and I haven’t exactly objected to it.”

“Si … yes … I know. I am bad for doing such things. You are too young and have no one to see to your interests.”

I threw a small sofa pillow at him and said, “Don’t be ridiculous. Last time I checked all you did was ‘see to my interests.’ We’ve never done anything really … er … well, I mean we’ve kissed but not like … er … well, you know what I mean. Kissing is as far as it has gone. And last time I checked hugging isn’t against the law or anything.”

His lips twisted into a half smile. “In my town hugging the wrong person can get you dead Day-cee. The men there are … er … possessive of what they see as theirs; wives, daughters, it matters not.”

“Sounds … charming.”

He took one look at the face I was making and slowly broke out into a real smile and scooted over beside me though he still sat on the floor. “Yes … charming. But it was the way it was. Good daughters from good families stayed good until they were granted permission to become good wives.”

“Geez that sounds like … I don’t know … so Dark Ages. I mean, if my parents were alive I would expect that someone would have asked permission before they asked me out on a date or asked to marry me but it’s … well, it is kind of just to be considerate and you know, honor my parents. But I would still be the one making the final choice. If I was eighteen my parents couldn’t stop me from getting married even if they did object.”

Abel shook his head. “That is not the way it is in Spain. First off there you must show that you are free to marry. It does not matter whether you go to the courthouse in Madrid or go to the priest in a small village; this certificate must be provided. To marry in the church means that your parents must write and sign that you are free or the priest will not marry you. Even to marry in the courthouse you must have witnesses that are close enough that say you are free and each town can say how close the witness must be to you … some say it must be a parent whether you are marrying in the church or not. Then you must … er … post the banns.”

“What is that? Like being engaged?”

“Um … no. Engagement as it is here is something that comes before applying for the license for to marry. The banns say you have made the application and that you will marry within the month and gives people time to give reasons why you should not.”

Shocked I said, “People can stop you from getting married even if you’ve got everything else done right? You’ve got to be kidding!”

“No … and there is more. Before you can even apply for to marry, you must prove that you were born, not everyone has the paper like they do in this country … the birth certificate. Many must go to where they were christened and get a copy of the official church registry or get a paper from the hospital where they were born if the original has been lost or destroyed. And if we wanted to marry in the church … oh Dios … we would have to have permission from the Bishop.”

I was wondering how he’d gone from a general discussion to discussing “we” getting married. He mistook my look and said, “Yes, it is very complicated and others can cause you much trouble when you wish to marry. That is why it is important that both families are happy with the match.”

All I could say was, “Uh huh.”

He was looking all relaxed again. His hands were behind his neck and he was leaning back like he was just explaining the rules to some sports game … like the time he tried to explain to me that football to him meant soccer and what the rules were compared to American football.

“Abel?”

“Hmm?”

“What are the rules when … uh … two people don’t have any family?”

He shrugged, “The same … only there is no one to cause trouble so it moves much faster so long as all the papers are in order.”

I had a million other questions but was afraid to ask them. He was staring into the fire when I finally got up the nerve to say, “Abel … I don’t want to fight so don’t think I’m … uh … teasing but … I still don’t understand what you mean by you don’t have rights.”

Pensively he looked into the fire rather than at me and answered, “It means many things. It means that … that … I have not much to offer you like most families would expect for their daughters. It means that you have no family or friends to stand up for you and make me behave with honor. It means that even if all those things were not true there is no man of the church to say words to give me the right to do the things that I think about. But mostly it means you are young and may not be ready for any of those things. This place is different from where I grew up. There is more … more possibilities for women. There was some of that where I came from but mostly girls were still expected to marry young and become wives and mothers. Only the rich families could afford to have their daughters choose a different future for themselves with their parents’ blessing.”

I was quiet for a while then felt forced to admit, “Abel, this is making me crazy. Are we talking about me, you, or us? Is it … I don’t know … hypothetical or is it real? You say such beautiful things but I’m still not sure if you’re saying them in general or saying them to me specifically for … you know … a reason.”

I know I can be as bold as brass and honest to a fault but even I have my limits. I was not about to ask whether he was talking about marrying me. For one I didn’t want to make a fool of myself if I was wrong. And for another I hadn’t a clue what I would do if he was asking me to marry him … or thinking about me marrying him … or whatever. I thought I was pretty sure I knew what I wanted but at the same time … whoooo boy, it was a really huge thing that needed a lot of thought. I just didn’t have me to think about, I had Daniel too. And it isn’t like all was right and bright in the world either. Decisions, no matter how small, could mean life or death for us all and what I was thinking about was not small … not small at all.

Still looking into the fire Abel answered and I could tell he was just as cautious as I was. “I am talking about all of that … you, me, us. If I think about it too much it … it … makes me want things even more Day-cee. I want you to know how I feel but if I think about you knowing how I feel then … then it makes me want you to … to prove you feel the same as I. And if we do that perhaps it is only a few short steps to … to more serious things. Perhaps you are so young you will change your mind or be sorry for the more serious things … and that would … would break me in a way … in a way Hakim never could. Do … do you … understand?”

Quietly I said, “Of course I do. I’ve lost a lot in this life and none of the losing was nice or easy to take. I don’t want to lose you too. Maybe one day I will … you could change your mind too you know. You aren’t that much older than I am and I don’t guess you’ve have much chance to get to know girls closer to your age.”

He finally turned and looked at me and said, “You will not lose me Querida, not for that reason.”

I shook my head. “Don’t make promises Abel. Broken promises hurt worse than promises never made.”

His soulful, chocolate colored eyes were more than I could handle. “But I wish to make promises to you Querida.”

“Right now you do but … but …” I could barely talk around the lump in my throat.

Quietly he said, “Shhhh. Do not get upset. Do not do the tears. Perhaps this is enough for now. Perhaps … perhaps if … if I were to know that you would make promises too if you were free to …”

Suddenly I understood. Abel was older but not that much older. And he’d been through some really horrible things in his life too. He was just as worried about spoiling things as I was and just as unsure that there was anything to spoil in the first place. I told him, “This isn’t where you grew up Abel. This is here and I’m free to make any promise I want to and make it stick. And believe me I want to. Did I ever tell you that both of my grandmothers got married when they were sixteen? One stayed with her husband and loved him until she died … the other … my father’s mother … her husband turned out not to be so great. He was too young when they got married and got suffocated by all the responsibilities and then made some wrong choices and chose a destructive path that hurt everyone. Do you see? I know I can make promises I’m just scared of the consequences of those promises.”

Scrunching up his face he asked, “You think I will … will not stick to a promise? That I will be angry at you for my promise?”

“No … not really although maybe a little of that is in there. I mean I know what the consequences of those promises could be.” Quietly I said, “I love Daniel. I’d die for him. But … but I …” I all but whispered the last part, “But I don’t know what I’d do if … if I had one just like him. A regular baby seems to be so much work, but what if the baby I had was just like Daniel? Or like your cousin Rosa? I remember how my parents were when they first found out that Daniel would be … different. They loved Daniel, maybe gave him an extra helping of it after that because he needed them in a way I didn’t … but part of them was a little sad too that he’d have to struggle in ways most kids didn’t.”

I saw Abel’s adam’s apple bob when he swallowed. “You are … are thinking babies.”

I wanted to hit him with another sofa pillow. He grew up on a farm, he should know it as well as I. “Babies are usually what happens when you do the things you say you are thinking of doing.”

I could see he was fighting to not smile or be embarrassed by the fact that he wanted to smile. “Yes … yes they do.”

I don’t know where I got the nerve to poke the bear but I told him, “Any man that makes those kinds of promises to me better not plan on being able to stud around. I’m no witless hen to share the rooster with all the other biddies.”

He choked on his own spit and said, “Yes, that I suspect that would be … er … as dangerous as if a man in my village were to hug the wrong person.”

We looked at each other and then all the tension just evaporated as we fell into a fit of laughter.

He finally climbed up on the sofa beside me and said, “I think this is a promise of sorts … yes?”

I nodded, “Yes. I guess it is sort of a promise that one day will make a promise to each other.”

“Si … yes.” But then he made a sad face, “I am sorry Querida, but I am just a poor man and I will probably think things that I would be better not thinking for they make me … crazy.” When he said crazy I could see plain as day he really meant something else and wasn’t particularly sorry about it.

Throwing a curveball at him I said, “News flash Buddy. Girls think about that stuff too.”

He acted really silly and ducked and covered his head with his hands. “Ah … no … now I have the idea … it is in my head. Ahhhh.” We laughed again, mostly at the fact that the argument was well and truly over with but then he added more seriously. “We are not farm animals. We can have the self-control until we can think of the answers to the things that worry us.”

I nodded, “Yeah. For a while anyway. One of these days we are really going to have to figure things out once and for all. I don’t know about you but I don’t want to have fights like this again. I don’t want to think you don’t think I’m a good girl.”

He sighed and said, “Yes … no more fights … but we probably will … just not on this. We are both too … too aspasionado … passionate, we feel things big. But for Daniel we will behave … for ourselves we will behave.” More quietly he added, “And I am sorry that you did not believe I knew you were a good girl. I just … the frustration … I let it make my brain mush and my mouth loose. I will not make that mistake twice.”

Smiling to show him no hard feelings I told him, “No, we’ll probably make other ones. Hopefully we won’t make them too often or too big.”

“Let us pray for that Querida. And now … now it is time that we went to our rooms I think. I don’t know about you but I am muy cansado … very tired. This foraging for all our food is very hard.”

“Yeah, Momma said you spent at least as much energy foraging as the food could provide you.” I stood up and we were about to go our separate ways when I jumped. “Oh! I forgot all about it. What did you do with the pig?”

Abel shook his head ruefully. “It got away before I could tie a rope on it. It was muddy and very hard to hold onto. And it was very smart and ran into the bushes where I could not follow.”

I had to practically run the last few steps to my room so that he wouldn’t see me laughing. I went to bed still smiling for a lot of reasons but the picture of poor Abel … done in by a pig and skunk cabbage … almost had me eating my pillow so he wouldn’t hear me howling with glee.

4 comments:

  1. So, are they engaged now? lol I'm not sure LOL!!

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  2. Ah this was wonderful! iv been down for almost a week, and feeling well enough now to take a peek and a whole mess of new chapters!!!! Thanks so much Kathy :) ~Mysty~

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  3. I did a google on skunk cabbage. Ewwww! Among it's pollinators are carrion-feeding insects and flies.

    Thanks for another good chapter.

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