Home by Frederick Foote

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I live up off Sorrel Creek road in Gusty Hills. Its eighty acres of good pasture land on rolling hills with majestic Blue Oaks and plebeian scrub brush residing on gentle swells like green clad bosoms in the spring and tanned brown breasts in the fall.

I live in the house that my grandfather, father and I were born in. A solid Oak and Sugar Pine structure with redwood shingles and two stone fireplaces.

The wind up here is a sprightly daytime imp and a voracious nocturnal creature. It rouses at dusk and shakes the grass and rattles the oaks. That hardy breeze creaks my old house making it moan and groan in wooden ecstasy.

I grew up being rocked by that wind and listening to her play the creaking wood and screeching nails of our stout home. Indeed, I sleep best when the wind freshens, finds her full voice and rules the hills, plucks the creek waters, flattens the grasses and bends the limbs of the great oaks to her will. I sleep like a baby, like the dead.

The land is all leased out now for horses, cattle, sheep and even goats.

#

I work in the city at jobs that put food on the table and help pay the taxes on the land. The jobs are a necessary evil.

In the office, she is swinging her hips and being full and ready to blush, blossom and bloom, she caught my eye. She ran a soft steel hook through that eye and down through my guts to my gonads.

Her presence turned a necessary evil into a daily delight.

And, eventually, into lusty nights of moans and screams, secretions, and sweet, sweet repose.

#

“Up here, up here you’re so different… Just… Like…”

“Like what? How do you mean?”

We’re sitting on my porch steps watching the sun bid us a fair thee well and a good night.

She closes her twin brown orbs under sun tinted eyelids. She reaches for my hand.

“You walk these hills and just fade into them, blend… the wind and you… You belong… You disappear… Merge with it all.”

The breeze comforts her, soothes her cheeks, fluffs her curls with affection.

#

“Wake up! Wake up! There is someone out there, outside, on the porch, at the door.”

She’s pulling my shoulder, her short nails digging into my skin. I drag myself from deep sleep, give her a brief hug and move off into the dark room. I don’t need a light. My feet know the way.

I take a kitchen chair and wedge it under the front doorknob. I do the same for the back door. I close and lock all the windows. The keys for the doors were lost in my grandfather’s time. I don’t ever remember locking these doors.

I try to sit with her and calm her, hold her and reassure her, but sleep, irresistible sleep, dragged me back into her dark domain.

In the morning, we buy and install high-quality locks, deadbolts on the doors and new window locks.

She’s good with her hands and handy with tools.

We lunch outside, on a blanket, under an Oak tree. She falls asleep with her head in my lap.

#

She’s starting to show just a little mound like the hills, in summer gentle and brown.

#

“Where’s your family pictures? I found ten pictures and three of those were of you and only one picture each of your mother and grandmother. Why is that? That is so odd.”

She’s sitting on the floor eating a tub of Butter Brickle ice cream and sorting old documents and our paltry few photos.

“I don’t know. That is odd. I remember old photo albums when I was a boy… three or four of them…”

#

At the breakfast table, she reads the newspaper article to me: “The victim was hit crossing the Interstate on the Gusty Hills section. He has been identified as Rally Hastings, thirty-nine, of Bellflower, California. Mr. Hastings was wanted on outstanding warrants in Los Angeles and San Joaquin counties. Witnesses Say Mr. Hastings appeared to be fleeing from something, but they saw nothing threatening and no one other than other drivers in the area at the time of the accident.”

“That was two nights ago when you heard someone on the porch, right?”

“Do you think it was him? Do you think it was Hastings?”

“It could have been. We rarely get visitors here. The house is not visible from the Interstate or the County road. I think that’s why we never bothered with locking the doors.”

She looks at me, looks at me oddly.

I lean over and lick her milk mustache, and one thing leads to another.

#

“A midwife? Really? Why?”

We are in my old room putting together a Swedish hand-made crib.

“Well, a doctor is fine if we can find one. My grandfather, father and I were born in this house. I would like to keep the tradition going-”

“This is a lonely place. There’re no close neighbors. The phone reception is poor at best. This place is kind of its own time zone.”

“You don’t want to live here? I thought you were getting used to the house and… sleeping better.”

“It tolerates me and patronizes me, the house, the land, the wind, even the sky. I’m on a visa here in your land. I could never live here, never.”

We sit across from each other silently pleading and searching for some common ground.

“I could try to live in the city or in San Juan. We could-”

The look on her face says she doesn’t believe me. I don’t even believe me.

#

It is a smooth, and she said “a relatively easy delivery,” of a seven pound eight-ounce boy with outstanding lungs and an appetite to match.

He sleeps between us that first night, and she asks, “Can we, our baby and I, leave here? Can we leave you or will I have an accident on the highway while you sleep?”

I answer as best I can. “You can come and go at will. You’re always welcome here.”

“And our baby?”

“Like me, like my father and grandfather, we can’t live anywhere else. I don’t think we can.” I touch her cheek. “I know we can’t.”

I think at that moment that she will kill me in my sleep with her sturdy hands or steal away with our son or both. And it will change little or nothing. Dead or alive I will be home where I belong, and sooner, rather than later, she will have to bring him home to all of us. We will endure here at home as long as there is the wind, the water, and the hills.

Frederick Foote

 

Blue Oak – Yath at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

16 thoughts on “Home by Frederick Foote

  1. Lovely writing Frederick – atmospheric and evocative. I like the structure of this broken into small sections to allow a wider passage of time than short stories sometimes easily allow. Good stuff – enjoyed it very much. Cheers, Nik

    Like

  2. Beautiful writing and a great format. You managed to get a whole lot of story into a short story. Great job. Hope you have more for us at Literally Stories ATVB
    Tobias

    Like

  3. Hi Frederick, I loved this from the first moment I read it. All that has been said before applies. There was an unsettling vibe all the way through this. It was beautifully written and left me singing ‘Hotel California’. I look forward to any other of your submissions.
    Excellent!!
    Hugh

    Like

  4. Pingback: Frederick K. Foote List of Publications | Black Foote Arts

  5. Pingback: Frederick K. Foote List of Publications | Black Foote Arts

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