One

 The train ride home was always too long, or so it felt. Returning to the small town from the city each year for the holidays was becoming more of a task now that my parents were aging and my siblings found it impossible to come to a common ground on anything. Since my grandmother’s passing, my siblings and I became responsible for the 1000-acre dilapidated farm. Passed down to us from my parents when they were no longer able to care for it, the burden now rested on us. The problem was that none of us lived there anymore, nor did we want the issue or headache of the maintenance of the farm, but written in small print was that it had to be sold in its entirety, which was nearly impossible with a farm of that size in that area. We were stuck with it.

So, every holiday, weekend off, or every other chance I could get, I took the train from Chicago to that small town in Colorado and checked in on my parents and the house that I co-owned with my four brothers. Nothing ever changed here, or so it seemed. The same old brick buildings, with their simple, outdated business signs, and the blinking yellow stop lights without a single cross walk in the entire town made for a simple life. The people here were as simple as the town, if not more than, with their slowed speech and their improper clothing. Farm life was the way of life here; boots and hats, camouflage and jeans, were an everyday occurrence for most people in this town. It was perfectly normal to walk into the local diner or bar dressed in your farm best. I walked off that train, took a deep breath, looked around myself, tucked my scarf into my jacket, and walked down the stairs, preparing myself for a long holiday break.

“58647 North Country Road,” I said to the cab driver at the train station.

“Is that Grove Station? The old Crashaw place?” he asked.

“Yes.”

“Sorry, but that’s a 45 minute drive from here. My route doesn’t go that far.”

Frustrated and tossing my hands into the air, I huffed, “Well what are you expecting me to do now?”

Thinking for a moment, he replied, “I’ll be right back.” Then he exited the car and walked away and into the local bar just a few hundred feet away. “Typical,” I thought. Remembering why I left this area at 17 years old, I opened the back door and stood against the side of the cab, impatiently waiting for the driver to return. After a few minutes of petulantly tapping my foot against the sidewalk, he returned. “Ma’am? This is Michael Radcliff. Your name?”

“I’m just looking for a ride. I just need a way home,” I said.

Michael looked at me somewhat confused and replied, “You live out at the big farm?”

“No. Technically, I don’t live there. My parents do. I’m just here for the holidays. I’m a medical fellow in Chicago.”

“Well, it’s nice to meet you,” he said extending his hand. “I’m heading out that way to take care of some things for your parents. I’d be happy to give you a lift.” He started walking away to an old, beat up pickup truck.

“Perfect,” I replied, climbing in.

 © 2018 Meg Sechrest All Rights Reserved

This is only an excerpt. This novel may be purchased soon in its entirety in either digital or paperback version. 

This article may not be reprinted without the author's written permission.

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