Wallflower Girl (Chapter 4, page 1 of 5)


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Nick was on the last run of bales. He had the steps down at the back of the trailer and had to climb carefully to position the remaining dozen prickly blocks, filling the seventh and eighth tier of the stack.

It was early yet, that summer afternoon. It would be light until after seven in the evening, and at five the sun was still hot against the exposed skin of his neck and face. He wore leather gloves and a thick cotton shirt to handle the straw, and jeans and boots were his standard attire all year round.

Nick positioned the last of the bales, and drove his little tractor around the grove of pines to where he had built his hay shed. He had stacked two trailer loads the previous day, and this was his second load for that day. He had another drink from his water bag, and tossed it aside.

There was smoke rising from the chimney of the cottage, which meant dinner was being prepared. He imagined what Patricia might be wearing right then; imagined her at the kitchen sink, and how he would take her from behind right there with her wash gloves on and her hands in the soap suds.

***

Anne woke feeling all cried out and resiliently angry. She was back on the road headed for home and to find out what her brother had done to her perfect world; her safe place. The silly déjà vu thing started again as she passed the truck-stop. She slammed on the brakes and stopped, looking at the faded truck on the roof. She suddenly felt it had been her idea to put it there or something, although she had never been to Hammond before and the damn truck was probably older than she was. What a strange sensation. It was quite strong, that feeling. She had come up with that idea. But that was impossible. It must be the strange mood from the wedding, and the nights of disjointed dreams and restless sleep giving her funny ideas.

She shook off the weirdness and drove on out of town and past all the grotty workshops and machinery places. The sunflowers were watching her again as she passed them, and she wondered if they actually turned their heads to face the sun, as they were all looking the same direction.

She crossed the rickety wooden bridge with the planks rattling their bolts. The sensation made her shiver. That thing felt unsafe. It should be replaced with something sturdier. It would be less picturesque to be sure, but safer. Maybe they could put this little historic bridge elsewhere, where people could see it, but wouldn't have to wear out their shocks driving over it, and risk ending up in the creek. Emerging from the tree line, she slowed and peered around, noting that all the big round bales were gone. Actually, there were still some, but they were in a line way up the back of the field.

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