Down on the Farm Ch. 04byRabbitrunner91©
The Friday of Homecoming arrived and the girls returned home from school. Edith, Becky and Sam disappeared into the barn doing chores. Trish and I got ready for the big date. We dressed into casual clothes, took along warm clothes for the ball game, plus our formal dress for the banquet and dance. The back seat of my car was loaded down, plus a couple surprises for her.
We drove to town and found a parking spot, locking the car, we walked hand-in-hand to a spot along Main Street. This location was near a corner and we would have an excellent view as the parade would pass. We sat on a wall ledge and talked as we waited. "You're excited?" I commented.
"Kind of." I see the smile across her face. "Yes I'm excited."
"Let's have fun today. Okay?" By now others were lining the street and seeking good vantage points. A couple guys from the dorm, I'd known earlier in the year walked by.
"Hi, Mark. How are you doing? Haven't seen you for a while? Who's your date?" one asked.
I introduced Trish to them, and then introduced them to her. We talked for a while about the big game, discussing strengths and weaknesses of our team. "Should be a good game." He said, finishing the conversation. They were to meet some others. "Gotta run, Mark. See you at the game. Are you two going to be at the dance?"
When I indicated we were, he looked at Trish, saying, "I'll look you up." Then he left.
I chuckled and shook my head as he walked away. "What was that about?" Trish questioned.
"Never mind him. It's just that he'll date anything that wears a skirt. Right now he figures you are a college student that he has somehow missed. He's interested in asking you out."
"Really? I don't think I'd be interested." Then she added, "Besides, I've got the date I want."
The parade arrived within a few minutes and we were regaled with the marching band, Homecoming Queen and her court, displays from different fraternities and sororities, plus several merchants. As the last float passed us, the crowd began to disperse. "Come on. Time for the game."
It took us nearly 45 minutes to get to the car, make our way to the stadium, and park again. The crowd was larger than I'd remembered from last year. The game was an important one, not for our team, but for our rivals. Should they win today, they would be conference champs. If they lost, another school would come out on top. For us, win or lose, it wouldn't make any difference, BUT we were determined to snatch the victory today, just to rub their noses in it.
We arrived at the field and after passing through the gate, took a seat on the bleachers. It was a cold afternoon with a crisp wind blowing from the north. The band performed a pre-game show, the cheerleaders jumped through their routines, and the teams took the field.
By half time we were ahead by 3 points and my voice was becoming hoarse. Trish had gotten into the spirit of the game and was as enthusiastic as everyone else. Walking to the concession stand she stuck her hands deep into my coat pockets. The wind had picked up and Trish was chilled. I purchased a chili-dog and a hot chocolate to warm her up. "You look cold. Hope this helps."
"Thanks, it does." She said while smiling.
The concourse is very crowded and we pick our way through towards the opening leading to our seats. A hand taps me on the shoulder and I turn around and see my friend Ron. "Hey, man, it's good to see you again. Where have you been keeping yourself?" he asks.
Briefly I explain about the farm work and I was staying there for now. "Where's Marj?" I ask. Ron and Marjorie had been dating when I first started school here. Now they were engaged and planning their marriage after school was out, next summer. Though we were not close friends, we had maintained a steady acquaintance.
"She'll be along in a minute. She had to use the restroom."
Just then she pulls up beside Ron and I introduce Trish. Marjorie reached out and they shook hands. We talk briefly for a few minutes.
"Say Marj, could you do us a favor?" I asked.
"If I can. Whatcha need?"
"Trish is new around here and she needs to change her clothes for the banquet. If we meet you in front of the Student Union, could you show her where to go?"
"Glad to, Mark."
"Thanks. I appreciate it." I say and hand her a slip of paper. I take Trish's hand and lead her towards our seats. Over my shoulder I say, "We'll see you by the SU."
As we take our seats, Trish asks, "What was that piece of paper?"
"A surprise." I said.
The contest between the two teams was very intense. Our guys were battling hard and the score remained close. We remained up 3 points through the 3rd quarter. At the beginning of the fourth they were able to move the ball and managed to score a TD, even against our defense. On the next drive, our team moved the ball down the field, and it looked like they were going to score. But on 3rd and 2, our man fumbled the ball and as it rolled towards the goal, the other team fell on it. With that stroke of luck, and the discouragement to our team, they took the ball to our 25 yard line before we stopped them. They connected with a field goal, were up by 7 points and 4 minutes to play.
Our guys get the ball back and are moving it down the field. Time is running out and we need a score. The coach called a time out and we can see the team huddled around him by the bench. When the whistle blew, we made an amazing play. The QB caught their defense napping and tossed a pass to our Tight End. He was off running and almost made it to the goal. Their man was able to push him out of bounds at the 2 yard line. The next series of plays are executed and we push the ball over the line. Tie game with 2:14 to play and they have the ball.
Can our defense hold them? This will be the test. Ever so subtly, they begin a series of short passes and march down the field; we cannot stop them. They are playing the clock well and it appears likely that they will score. At our 35 yard line, 20 seconds on the clock, they have two more plays. If they can move the ball 5 more yards, stop the clock, and kick a field goal, the game is over. We MUST stop them. Our coach calls our last time out to setup the defense.
Trish is into this game and yelling with the crowd. "Do you think we can stop them?" she asks above the roar.
"I don't know. We can only hope."
The whistle blows, the ball is snapped and their QB tosses a perfect pass right into the receiver's hands. Suddenly our side is on their feet and yelling. As I look, it dawns on me that the receiver was from our team and he was madly running it down the sideline. It was like a slow motion comedy, our one lone man was being chased by 6 or 7 of their team. They wouldn't catch him, either. The clock expires just before he crosses the goal line and we win the game. The stands are in bedlam. The crowd has gone crazy. We win. We WIN. WE WIN.
Trish and I are literally hugging each other over this victory. As the crowd calms down, we find our way to the exit and out to the parking lot. We overhear snatches of conversations about the amazing play which gave us the unexpected win. This would be a topic of conversation for a long time to come. I am still full of adrenalin and I lead us into a small park. The sun had gone down a short time ago and the field lights added to the illumination in the fading twilight. I was feeling euphoric and Trish was full of fun. She began to tickle me. I am ticklish, very ticklish and she had found my weak spot. We soon were rolling on the grass and she worked to get their hands under my coat and onto my ribs. My hands are flailing, both trying to get her to stop and to also tickle her. We were laughing so hard and before I realized it, Trish was on the bottom and I lay on top. As I rise up, my hand brushed against her side and landed on her breast. This was not my intention so I attempted to move it. Her fingers then found their way under my coat and into my ribs, my arms collapsed and my hand closed on her breast. Despite my best efforts to avoid it, the result was obvious; unintentional, but obvious. I cried out "Uncle, I give up. You win. You win."
We were exhausted and lay there panting. I finally stood and pulled Trish to her feet. She took this opportunity, wrapped her arms around me and kissed me soundly. I returned the kiss and we lingered. After we disengaged, she turned to me and she placed her hand in mine.
"Come," I say. Traffic was lighter and I steer the car towards the SU. After find a parking spot, we carried our change of clothes and arrived at our destination. Marjorie was waiting for us. "What took you two so long?" she questioned.
"Got side tracked." Trish volunteered, grinning.
"Go change into your dress, and I'll meet you back here when you're ready." I say.
Trish and Marjorie head off towards the women's changing room as I mosey to the men's area and slip into a suit I had rented for this occasion. Now, I'm not one to dress up much, but I wanted this evening to be special for Trish. If this was her first date, and I believed it was, I would make it into a truly memorable time.
Putting my regular duds into the duffle bag, I stowed it into a locker and returned to our meeting point. Trish and Marj hadn't returned, so I waited. In fact, I waited nearly 20 minutes. Marjorie came out first, with Trish following immediately behind, so that I couldn't get a glimpse. I had risen to my feet as Marjorie approached, then Trish stepped out from behind her and my breath was taken away. "Oh wow, Oh my." Was all I could say. In all the time I had known Trish, she usually wore jeans and sweatshirts. Occasionally she would wear a skirt and blouse to church. But I had never seen her dressed in a gown like this. Edith had purchased the gown, special for this date, and had it modified to fit Trish. She was absolutely stunning. "Wow." I say again.
"Do you like the way she looks?" Marj asked.
"Holy smokes, Trish, you're beautiful."
"Sorry about the delay, but I was fixing her hair." Marj added.
And indeed her hair did look lovely. Marj had brushed Trish's hair, left the sides hand down, and then pulled the center back, placing it in a high pony tail. The arrangement was beautiful. I must have been gawking 'cause Marj poked me. "Oh, yeah." I said. I retrieved a box I'd slid under a chair and opened it, removing a corsage. Stepping close to Trish, I pinned it on her gown and stepped back to admire. "You look lovely." I said. "Absolutely lovely."
"Thank you." Trish said.
"Pretty as a picture; don't you think, Mark?" said Marj.
That brought me to my second surprise. Each year a local photographer came and set up his cameras. Anyone could come for a sitting. Often many of the couples had their picture taken, and for an extra charge, he would have them ready by the time the evening was over.
I leaned over and gave Marj a kiss on the cheek. "Thanks for everything. Tell Ron, I appreciate him letting me borrow you for these few minutes."
"My pleasure. Trish is a real beauty and a real lady. She's special. Hang on to her, Mark." With that, she departed to find Ron.
I escorted Trish to the photographer's area, filled out the forms, paid my money, and we had our pictures taken. We had individual pictures taken and several shots of us together. Trish didn't talk much during this time, but her eyes were shinning. She was the center of attention.
Next stop was the banquet hall, and I escorted her to the room. There were tables arranged around the sides, with the center of the floor cleared for dancing. We selected a table and as I walked her to our chairs, I noticed several people were turning to look at Trish. Whether it was from wondering who this new person was, or whether if was because of how she looked, it did not make any difference. She was drawing attention.
Four couples were seated at each table and I didn't know any of the other folks we were with. A professor and his wife were among our group and we became animated in conversation. During the course of the evening he inquired about Trish, saying he hadn't seen her on campus. Trish explained she lived in the area, but was attending another school elsewhere. All day we'd been leaving the impression Trish was attending college; we just never bothered to correct this misconception.
The meal was served and an orchestra played. Later, while the desert was being served, the coaches from our teams were asked to stand and address the audience. They poked jabs at each other's team, all in jest and we were rolling in laughter. The meal was finished and the tables cleared. The orchestra started playing tunes for dancing.
"Trish," I said, "would you like to dance?"
"I don't know how to dance." She replied.
"I don't either. Shall we learn together?" I stood and extended my hand.
She took my hand and we moved to a section of the floor that was not crowed. Tentatively we started and at first we were clumsy. However, as the evening progressed we learned and were enjoying our time very much. Several times, other men would ask Trish for a dance. She politely declined, but thanked them for asking. In the ball room, there were a few outstanding women, and in my mind, Trish was one of them. I honestly saw other folks, from a distance, watching her.
The evening moved on, and the clock struck twelve. But this Cinderella didn't change. She remained beautiful. About one o'clock, people were leaving and Trish and I left, going to the photographer to pick up our prints. As usual, he had several different prints in our packet, hoping we would purchase additional ones, which I did. Trish wanted an 5 x 8 of each portrait, plus an 8 x 10 of the two of us. I purchased some wallet size of each, and an 8 x 10 of us both. This last one was for Edith.
"You ready to go?" I asked.
"No, not really. Can we go get something to eat?"
I bow before her, "Your wish is my command." Then I help her get her coat on.
Arm in arm, I walk her to the car and we drive to a local restaurant which stays open 24 hours. Entering, we are shown a table and we sit side by side. "Are you having a good evening?" I ask.
"Oh thank you, Mark. It's been better than good." She hugged my arm and gave me a kiss on the cheek.
The waitress took our order and we talked until it was served. After we had eaten, Trish yawned, she was tired and ready to go home. "Come, let's get this princess home, she needs to turn into a sleeping beauty."
We drove home and walked into the house. She turned to face me; I took my hand, lifted her chin and kissed her. Her arms instinctively wrapped around my neck and we held this for a long time. As we separated Trish said, "Oh no, I forgot. I'm to help mom milk this morning."
"Go on to bed." I tell her. "Let me help your mom."
"Mark, are you sure?"
"Scoot. Go to bed. I can't sleep anyway."
Giving me a quick kiss, "Thanks." And she went to her room.
I slipped downstairs and changed out of the suit, got into my work clothes and went to the barn. Edith had arrived a short time earlier, but was not surprised I had volunteered to help.
"You gotta tell me everything that happened last night." She demanded.
As we worked together, I related the evening's events. I'm not given to much detail, and Edith would ask questions to further enhance events. I shared the events of the parade, the game, meeting with Ron and Marj, the pictures, banquet, the dance, and our time at the restaurant.
"You have pictures?"
"Yeah, here." I pulled a couple from my wallet. As she looks at them I add, "I have an 8 x 10 of that one at the house for you."
She lifts her eyes to mine, "You're a handsome young man. She sure is pretty. Isn't she?"
"Yeah she really is."
"Did you kiss her?"
"Twice, huh. When?"
"Just now, when I brought her home. And once in the park."
"What happened in the park?"
I hesitated at this point and Edith picked up on it. "Mark, either you can tell me, because Trish will. It's your choice."
So I related the events and where I had touched her, inadvertently.
She was quiet for a long time and I feared I was in trouble. It was a mistake and not intentional. How could she hold that against me? When she next spoke, her question caught me completely off guard. "Mark, do you love Trish?"
Pausing, I say, "I don't think so."
"Mark, I know Trish. She'll believe it was intentional and you were showing her affection. Now tell me why you DON'T love her?"
"Edith, she is a kid. That makes a lot of sense."
"As smart as you are, you can sure be ignorant when it comes to women. Look, from the first day Trish met you, she has had a crush on you. Mark, I know she adores you; she loves you."
I am blown away and stand there dumbfounded.
"How old are you Mark?"
"How old is Trish?"
"Wrong. She'll be 18 next month. She is a woman and she is interested in you. Those kisses and when you fondled her will have given her the idea you cared. She and I have had some talks and you were the topic. I have known for a long time that she loves you, she loves you beyond reason, Mark. Lately her one big wish has been that you would show some interest and date her, but you haven't shown any. It was my suggestion to take her to homecoming. I think you need to talk to Trish and get some things straight. If you have absolutely no interest in her, let her know. On the other hand, if there is the least possible chance, she should be aware."
For the last three minutes, I had not moved from where I stood. The things she was sharing were mind blowing. Then Edith asked the defining question.
"Mark, look at me."
"I think you love Trish; but you aren't willing to accept it. What would your life be like, if Trish were suddenly gone? Don't answer, think about it and tell me later."
We didn't talk any more and proceeded with the milking and chores. One of the heifers hadn't come in and would need to be checked on. We finished up about 9:30 and headed to the house for breakfast. The younger girls were up and had the table set. We sat down and soon had the food gone. I was dead tired and hadn't slept for over 24 hours. "I'm going to bed. Wake me for chores."
Crawling into bed was easy, but sleep wouldn't come. My mind turned that question over and over. What if Trish were suddenly gone? What would my world be like? My thoughts considered the possibilities of loosing each of the girls, of Edith being gone, of them all being gone. There was one overriding theme; I didn't want to loose Trish. The others, I'd miss terribly, but Trish, no, I didn't want to loose her at all. She was enjoyable to be around and the times spent doing chores were some of the most fun times. I must have dozed because I was suddenly wide awake and in a cold sweat. A dream was haunting me, in it Trish was gone. The clock read 1pm. Still two hours till milking. Edith's words made sense, maybe I did love Trish. Maybe I didn't. I wasn't sure. How could I know? Maybe ... Maybe ... I fell asleep.
The alarm jerked me awake and I reached over to shut it off. The time was 3am and I'd slept 14 hours straight. I must have needed it. Putting on my clothes, I head to the barn. Flicking on the lights, I put together the milking machines and drop down the feed. The cows are patiently standing at the gate, waiting to be let into the holding pen. I open it and let them in. A quick check lets me know that the bulk tank has been cleaned, so I begin milking. Busily I clean off the udders and apply the milking cups.
A hand rests on my shoulder and I turn and see Trish. "Mom asked me to help you this morning."
Pointing towards a couple cows, "Could you start with them?" She moves off and begins her chores.
Me, I wondering how much Edith had talked to Trish. Probably a lot, but where does that leave me? Within a few minutes the two of us are in a rhythm. A fresh group of cows is let into the barn and we work as a team, cleaning their udders, feeding them, and putting on the machines. Silently we work together, knowing what the other is doing and understanding what is expected. Time passes and it's 9 o'clock as we finish.