Harvest is going strong on the farmland in Colorado. It brings back vivid memories. One I'd like to share.
Our place sits 20 miles from a grocery store, a doctor or a hospital. Custom wheat harvesters always camped in our yard.
The day we lost Gracie, 18 workers lived in campers parked side by side, between our house and the airplane hanger.
It had rained, so harvesting of the grain stopped at dusk. After helping my mother prepare a meal for 26, I went outside to flirt with handsome R.D., a harvester's son from Oklahoma.
He gave me a James Dean smile, tipped his cowboy hat, flexed his muscles and revealed a tattoo on his arm that made me blush. R.D. was 18 and a hunk of a guy. I was 14 going on 15.
R.D. motioned for me to come closer with the same hand that held his Marlboro cigarette. Smoke curled around his sexy eyes. "Baby girl," he whispered, "let's go take a stroll to the creek. Been watch'in you for a week. My heart's in a fluttering state."
I couldn't breath and time stopped, but only for a few seconds. Suddenly, Mrs. Thompson drove her dust-ladened sedan into the yard with a flurry of dust behind her.
"I need help," she yelled, screeching to a stop.
R. D. and I hurried to her car and in the backseat, my best friend Gracie, lay crumpled to one side, dirt and dried blood covered her face and body. Her waist length brown hair draped onto the floorboards . I screamed for my parents.
R. D. opened the car door and felt Gracie's neck. "She's done dead," he said, drawling it out like he was something special.
No empathy came from his lips and no remorse filled his face. I pushed his brawny body aside and placed by face next to my friend, praying for a breath to touch my skin. But there was nothing. Not a wisp. And her face felt cold to my touch.
Her mom sobbed out the details of Gracie's demise. The black stallion she'd ridden to gather the steers had thrown her to the ground in the pasture near their home. Mrs. Thompson had seen the horse wander into the barnyard without Gracie on board. She'd found her daughter's lifeless body and somehow loaded her into the car and driven the 7 miles to our place, not knowing what else to do.
My dad pushed past me and gently lifted Gracie out of the car. He carried her to our house placing her on our sofa. I followed him and rushed into my bedroom to grab a blanket to cover her.
I don't remember exactly what happened next, but later I stared out the kitchen window to see R.D. still leaning on his truck, grinning and motioning for me to come to him. It was then I realized he was a self-absorbed idiot. I was thankful that harvest would soon be over and he'd take his bad breath and squinty eyes, back to Oklahoma.