Bryson opened the gate and I walked through and over to his truck. I put the tailgate down and sat on it. I didn’t want him to think that I would go anywhere with him. I wanted to stay where dad could see us.
That idea didn’t work. Dad got on the tractor drove it to the house. Bryson stood in front of me with his hands in his jacket. “You know, there is a warmer place we can talk. We could drive around, go to the café, or in your house.”
“I’m fine. This way you talk fast and I can walk back to the house.” I was cold, but not only felt cold but I was also cold with my words.
My heart said, ‘Get off the tailgate, don’t be so short with him, wrap your arms around him, and forgive him.’
My head said, ‘Run and don’t stop running. He’ll hurt you again and again.”
He pushed the dirty snow around with his cowboy boot and looked at the ground. I leaned forward and adjusted myself so I could see his face. “Well?”
He looked up and his eyes were clouded with tears. “I’m sorry, Sharon. I didn’t mean to hurt you. You were the only relationship I ever had. We were young.”
“Not a good enough answer. You were my only relationship also. What would you have done if I had cheated on you?” I snapped back.
“I don’t know. I know I’ve missed you and I don’t want to spend the rest of my life without you.”
“Bryson, I have a different life now. I have a job where people rely on me. Are you willing to move there?”
He looked up surprised that I would say something like that. “You know I’ll never leave here. I have the farm to run. I’ve never lived in the city and I don’t want to find out what it’s like.”
“It’s not that bad. Ten-minute drive to work, the grocery store is around the corner, and my friends are close by.”
“That doesn’t even entice me. I see people everywhere, cars everywhere, and buildings. I don’t see trees, pasture, and freedom.”
“I think you need to come up with a better excuse. I’m going back to the house. I’m sure my family is waiting for me,” I said as I jumped off the tailgate.
“Wait,” Bryson replied as he touched my arm. “I know it’s not enough, but it’s the truth. I couldn’t control myself and because of that, I may have lost the only person I’ll ever love.”
I didn’t know what to say anymore. All the pain he caused me two years ago was coming back. I was hoping for more of an answer. I don’t know what that answer was, but it wasn’t the one he gave me. Not even his apology was enough to keep me here.
Walking up the driveway I heard him start his truck. I didn’t turn around to look because I could hear that he was driving behind me. I had this gut feeling he wouldn’t give up.
I wondered how the farm was doing as I walked. When I left, my income from the local doctor’s office was keeping us afloat. I wondered if he needed me back for financial help. I was the only reason the land payments were made.
We had purchased more land to farm two years before I left. We thought the extra income from crops would help, but we took a loss because it was a dry year. The next year was a little better, but it didn’t make up for the loss from the previous year. The crop insurance helped some, but not a lot.
Selling some of the calves helped, but we didn’t have much in the way of cattle. With just starting out, it was hard. We borrowed bulls for breeding and kept them on the pasture from spring until fall. I walked in the house and I felt the heaviness in my chest from our conversation. I turned and looked out the door and saw Bryson looking back at me with a blank stare.
Mom walked up behind me and put her hands on my shoulders. “Come in the kitchen and have a cup of coffee with me. You don’t need to say anything and I won’t say a word.”
Sipping our coffee in silence, I knew mom could sense I was struggling with my feelings. Why did love have to be so hard? Why couldn’t it be simple? Part of me wanted to leave immediately and avoid all of it, but I knew that would it only make it sure and dad would agree. I stood up, “Mom I’m going for a ride. I need to think.”
“I think Jigger would like that. He’s missed you.”
I walked around and let my hand slide across mom’s back. I knew what she meant and what she was thinking. She wanted me home also.
Dad was in the doorway of the barn holding my saddle. “I knew you would be back. I heard the screen door slam.”
“You knew I would be back to ride Jigger?”
“Jigger is how you always solved your problems. I’ll never understand the relationship you have with this horse, but I’m glad you have it. It always seemed that he could lead you down a path that your mother and I never could.”
Kissing dad on the cheek, I pulled back and smiled. I took the saddle from him and Jigger was at the gate neighing at me. When I reached him, I placed the saddle on his back and put his bridle on. Hopping on him, I patted him on the neck and then hugged him. Jigger was my best friend.
When we turned from the gate, Jigger took off in a run. I felt free and alive. The cold air was brisk on my face. I could see Jigger’s breath coming from his nostrils. Every once in a while he would snort, but nothing was stopping us. He stopped abruptly at the tree on the far end of the pasture. I tried to get him to go, but he wouldn’t budge. He bounced his head up and down and snorted.
“Ok boy. I know. You want me to see something.” I got down and walked over to the tree. Carved into the tree was a heart and under it, it said ‘Bryson and Sharon forever’. “Did you want me to see this? Jigger do you think I should give him another chance?”
I turned back and looked at the tree. My heart melted. I looked back at Jigger and he neighed. “Ok boy. I know what you’re saying. I don’t know if my heart can do it again.”
He moved his head up and down. I turned back to the tree and ran my hand over the engraving. Tears rolled down my cold cheeks. I turned, and Bryson was beside Jigger holding a dozen red roses.
“Sharon, you are the love of my life. Please stay and give me another chance,” He said as he stepped forward and kissed me.
I let myself fall into his embrace. The tears fell harder as he held me. I pulled back and he handed the flowers to me. Jigger neighed and bobbed his head up and down. I smiled and knew he approved.