" One cannot have everything the way he would like it. A man has no business to be depressed by a disappointment, anyway; he ought to make up his mind to get even.." – Mark Twain
Eventually it did stop snowing but the weather still remained weird. One it was colder than usual by several degrees. Two it was drier as far as what the weather people would have called precipitation. It was still wet all around us but it was from existing water rather than from anything new coming down.
“Count me grateful that the trails are drying up,” I told Lee while we were hunting up dry wood to bring back for the wood pile. “I’m tired of mud on the floors.”
“Tired of mud in and on my boots,” added Lee in a tone that said he wasn’t complaining exactly but was full up to the top with some of the challenges we faced every day. “It’s like walking around with weights on.”
“That too,” I said with a smile. Only Lee didn’t smile back. “What’s on your mind?” I asked him.
“Lee Ward Thompson you’ve never lied to me so don’t start now.”
He jerked like he’d been wasp-bit then looked at me and snapped, “Don’t start Bella. It’s nuthin’. Leave it alone.”
Well I figured he deserved some slack after all he’d graciously given me so I let it go. But his “nothing” was definitely something and got so big over the next two weeks it was getting between us … even in bed. He wasn’t even interested in me reading to him at night no more. And whether I should have or not, I caught it hurting my feelings that he wouldn’t talk to me. Eventually his not talking led me to conclusions that nothing he said afterwards told me I was wrong.
Then one morning out of the blue Lee said “Bella …”
And I knew. “It’s OK Lee, I get it.”
“I won’t make a fuss.”
“Er … you won’t?”
He sagged in relief. “Whew. I thought you’d be upset.”
I was but obviously he wasn’t once he figured out I was letting him off the hook.
He gave me a pleading look and said, “I just need to go.”
“Like I said, I understand.” I was standing at the counter setting beans to soak and tried to pay attention to it so hard he couldn’t see how he was making me feel. “When do you plan on leaving?”
Eagerly he answered, “No time like the present.”
I was truly caught off guard. “You’ve been preparing for this? With … without saying … well … anything?”
“Don’t get upset Bella, please. I just gotta go. It’s driving me crazy. I ain’t got any peace.” He ran off eager to get ready.
Well talk about a slap in the face. But I should have figured. Reality is a lot different than he could have imagined He built me up to be some person – some dream – and then found out it was all just a fairy tale For me it was the opposite I’d never even had the courage to dreamin that direction so reality was so much better than I’d ever imagined.
I put together some supplies for him and then while he was out of the room I wrote out a quick letter:
Lee, thanks for caring enough to come find me but I understand I wasn’t what you imagined. I don’t hold it against you and this time with you will always be special in my heart. But I’m begging you not to tell people that I lived in sin with you. I know we weren’t thinking of it like that but I’ve felt you pulling away and now it’s driving you so crazy you admit you just gotta get away. So even though I haven’t got much reputation left I couldn't stand for people to think less of me than they already do … especially your family who might be upset that I kept you away so long.
Another thing, I don’t want any hard feelings between us. I don’t believe you set out to lose your feelings for me so much as I simply maybe wasn’t who or what you needed or wanted after reality set in for you. We’ve been thrown together so much that we’ve hardly had time to do much more than get through the days. I think we did good but there comes a time when I guess that isn’t enough. I also don’t think it is right that I keep this ring since its an heirloom but I don’t think I’d be very good about facing you for you to ask for it back so here it is. I ain’t throwing it back at you so don’t think that; I’m just trying to do the right thing.
I’m also asking you not to tell no one where I am. If I wasn’t ready to go down and face everyone before, I’m sure not ready to do it now and have them ask all sorts of questions. Don’t worry, I ain’t gonna go crazy or do anything stupid … I’ve got some pride and I’ve got the animals to take care of if nothing else.
And I also want you to know I won’t embarrass you by making a claim on you at any point down the road. I only want the best for you ‘cause you deserve it.
Now you take care and have a good life and find all the silver linings you could ever need. God bless you and whoever you take up with in the future.
I was trying to figure out a way to sneak it into his stuff when he ran back to the storage room to get something which gave me time to put the letter and ring in a Ziploc bag and shove it way down in his pack inside a pocket.
He came back, said a quick goodbye to Rufus and Beau, took the birds off his shoulders where they were preening his hair then said, “I hate to rush. I feel like there’s things I ain’t done. That I missing something or … I …”
“Oh for heaven’s sake just go … daylight’s wasting and those windstorms can be bad.”
“Aw don’t cry Bella.”
“Don’t get stupid Lee. Of course I’m gonna cry. Just be careful andtell your family I said hello … maybe … maybe Uncle Jerry and the boys too if you think they’d care to hear.”
He surprised me with a hard kiss good bye and said, “Things’ll be OK Bella and I’ll be careful.”
“I know. Now stop dilly dallying and do what you need to do.”
He grinned in relief and then practically ran down the trail.