Megan woke up feeling disoriented. It took a while before she remembered what had happened. She couldn’t believe how the accident caused all the old memories to come flooding back. She felt like it had all happened yesterday instead of when she was sixteen. Back then, she had sworn that she would never allow anything to make her feel so helpless again, but it all came back. The tears were running down her cheeks as she remembered her cousin’s face while she was pleading for help. Katrina walked into the door with a glass of hot milk with honey. She wiped away the tears quickly, and tried to face her with a smile.
“Glad to see you’re awake. You gave us a bit of a scare.” Katrina placed the glass on the bedside table.
“I just wasn’t feeling very well, but I’m feeling better now.”
“Don’t think that you can fool an old woman like me, child. The look in your eyes had nothing to do with not feeling well.” Katrina pulled a chair closer to the bed. “So, are you going to tell me what happened?”
Megan looked at Katrina and gave her a sad smile. “It isn’t really something I want to talk about right now Kat. Maybe in a while I’ll feel up to it.”
Katrina looked into Megan’s tear-filled eyes, and knew that this wouldn’t be the time to talk. She knew all about old wounds, and how raw they can be if opened unexpectedly. She got out of the chair and went to sit next to Megan on the bed. She pulled her into a hug and just held her while she cried. When Megan’s body stilled Katrina let her go slowly and got up.
“Drink the milk, it will help you sleep. Tomorrow will be a new day and we’ll take it from there.” She ran her fingers down the side of Megan’s face before moving towards the door.
“Kat.” Katrina stopped as she was about to turn the doorknob. “Thanks for getting me out of my clothes. They must have been covered in dirt.”
Katrina smiled. “No need to thank me, I wasn’t here. Charlie took care of you while I drove with Rubin and Emma to the hospital. Emma was in such a state when she heard what had happened, I couldn’t let Rubin take her to the hospital on his own.” Katrina left a shocked Megan in the room.
Katrina stopped in the study door when she saw Charlie sitting at her desk with her head resting in one hand. She was deep in thought and didn’t notice when Katrina walked further into the room. She was startled when Katrina sat down in the chair opposite her. “I didn’t know we had mice in the house.”
Katrina laughed. “I could have been an elephant, and you wouldn’t have heard me come in. What’s on your mind?”
Charlie blushed slightly. “Nothing much. Did you check in on Megan?”
“Yes. She was awake, and I think she’ll feel a lot better in the morning.”
“I’m starting to think she’s a walking disaster. We sure as hell don’t need to watch soap operas with her around, not that they are worth watching anyway.”
“You leave my soaps alone. I’m not holding a gun to your head asking you to watch them. Have Rubin and Emma come back yet?”
Charlie sat back in the chair and stretched. “Yes, about fifteen minutes ago. Emma is much more relaxed, now that she’s seen that he’s fine.”
“I’m glad. Today could have been so much worse. Megan has got me worried though.”
“There is nothing physically wrong with her, she just fainted. It was probably because she didn’t feed that stomach of hers enough today.”
“It’s not the physical I’m worried about, it’s the emotional side. I know the signs, but she doesn’t want to talk about what caused her reaction.” She yawned as she got up from the chair. “It’s time for these old bones to get some rest. Night.”
“Good night Kat; sleep well.”
Charlie wasn’t sleepy yet, and pulled the keyboard and mouse closer to continue working, but as earlier, she couldn’t concentrate on work. Being alone again brought her thoughts back to where they were before Katrina walked in, on Megan. She had tried not to take notice of Megan’s body while undressing her, but it was impossible. She could still feel Megan’s skin under her fingertips.
Charlie was rudely awakened from a very pleasant dream by someone screaming for help. She jumped out of bed and forgot about her crutches as she ran to the door. “Ouch!” she yelped in pain. “Someone better be dying!” In the hallway she could make out that the screaming came from Megan’s room. She rushed over as fast as she could and threw the door open ready to attack, but what she saw stopped her in her tracks.
Megan was lying in a foetal position crying and screaming, but still asleep.
“Someone help… O God… someone please help!” Megan was hugging her own body.
Charlie just stood in the doorway. She didn’t know what to do.
“I’m sorry Christine, I’m so sorry, it’s all my fault, please don’t die, I’m sorry.”
Charlie moved uncertainly towards Megan.
“HELP!!!!” The screams were gut wrenching.
“Christine, PLEASE don’t die.”
“Why am I so helpless?”
“Why can’t I move this bloody rock?!”
“Please Christine, just wake up and tell me what to do!”
Megan was now rocking herself from side to side. Charlie tried to wake her, but Megan was caught up in her dream. Still not sure what to do Charlie gathered Megan in a hug and was trying to calm her. “It’s OK Megan. It will be fine.”
“No, no it won’t. I can’t get you out from under this rock.”
“It’s only a dream. You need to wake up.”
“If only I can get you out, I’ll carry you down this damn mountain.”
“It’s OK Megan. We can wait, someone will come with help.” Charlie tried to calm Megan by pretending to be Christine.
“Why do you ever listen to my stupid plans? If it wasn’t for my ideas you wouldn’t be under this rock. ”
“It’ll be fine. Just rest a bit. Close your eyes and sleep. When you wake up, everything will be better.” Charlie was rocking Megan and gently running her hand up and down her back.
“Yes. Sleep is good….” Megan’s breathing became more regular until it was slow and deep.
Charlie laid her back down onto the pillow and pulled the covers over her. She walked back to the door, but turned around and looked back at the little blonde sleeping peacefully now. “You probably won’t even remember this in the morning, and who the hell is Christine?” she whispered.
When Charlie got to the dining room, Katrina and Megan were already sitting there having their coffee. Katrina looked up at Charlie and gave her a questioning look when she saw the dark circles underneath her eyes. “It doesn’t look like you had a good night’s sleep at all Charlie. Is something wrong?”
Charlie yawned. “Too many things on my mind, so I couldn’t sleep.”
“Well, then you need a good hearty breakfast to get you going. I’ll go and get it for you.” Katrina got up to go to the kitchen.
“I can do that myself Kat.”
“Nonsense. I’m still the cook in this house. You just sit yourself down in that chair.”
Megan hadn’t even acknowledged Charlie when she walked in, and was now ignoring her completely. Charlie was annoyed. “So what’s eating you this morning?”
Megan glared at her. “I don’t appreciate the fact that you undressed me.”
“What?” Charlie was flabbergasted.
Megan’s meal was forgotten as she lit into Charlie. “Did you get off on undressing me? Couldn’t you at least have waited for Kat to come back to do it?”
Charlie was taken aback. “Why you ungrateful little shit.”
“Nobody touches me without my permission.” Megan was waving her finger in front of Charlie’s face.
“How delusional are you? I wasn’t touching you for pleasure, I was helping you!” Charlie was seething.
“Ha, don’t tell me that. I remember you holding onto me and stroking my back. What does that have to do with undressing me?”
“I didn’t….” Charlie stopped when she realised that Megan was thinking of the previous night and somehow mixing it into the previous day.
“You can’t deny it, can you?!” Megan said sarcastically
“Yes I can, but it wouldn’t help. I don’t need to defend myself to you. You need a shrink.” Megan was speechless.
Charlie got up from the table as Katrina walked in. “I’ll have my breakfast in the study Kat, if you don’t mind helping me to get it there please. I didn’t get all my work done last night. ” She didn’t wait for an answer as she turned and hobbled towards the study.
“No one tells me what I need!” Megan yelled after her.
Charlie stopped and turned around to face Megan again. “You wouldn’t know what you needed if it bit you in the butt. You will be better off in the city where you came from.”
“There is no way you are getting me to walk away, you arrogant arsehole. You just want this place for yourself without paying for it.”
“I don’t care what you do, just stay out of my way, and away from my stuff!” Charlie turned again and hobbled further.
“The further I can stay away from you the better,” Megan replied defiantly
Katrina just stood there looking from the one to the other. “Maybe Charlie is right,” she thought to herself. “We have our own soap opera here.” She didn’t know how else to describe Megan and Charlie’s behaviour. Here she had been, thinking things were going to be so great from now on, especially after she had gone to check on Megan last night and found Charlie comforting her. She must have missed something along the way.
Days went by, while Charlie and Megan stayed out of each other’s way as much as possible. Charlie arranged for another desk to be carried into the study for Megan to work at, but they were never there at the same time.
Charlie caught up on all the paperwork that she had neglected for so long, but was frustrated with not being able to just go about a normal day as usual because of the cast. She would drive around in the truck with Rubin, but wasn’t really of any use except for giving instructions.
Charlie got used to hearing Megan call for help every night after the accident. On the second night she tried to will herself not to listen, and just to go back to sleep, but she couldn’t. Eventually she got up and went to Megan’s room. She once again wouldn’t wake up, and Charlie just comforted her. It became a nightly routine, and Charlie found herself lying in bed waiting for that call. During the day she would look at Megan, thinking how different she was when she was awake. Charlie thought of speaking to Megan about her dreams, but also felt that she would be losing something precious if the nightly calls weren’t there.
Megan tried to keep herself busy with reading, and organising her business over the phone and internet. She made sure that she was never in the study when Charlie got there, and never went in if she was there already.
Katrina refused to let their actions get to her, so she went about her days as usual, and chatted to them as she normally did. She was going through some of her old recipe books when Megan walked in. “Hi Kat,” she greeted. “I need some advice from you.”
Kat smiled and gestured for her to sit down at the kitchen table. “I can definitely try.”
“I need to find something to do, or I’m going to die of boredom. I’ve only been here four weeks now; how am I going to survive the rest of the year?”
“Have you thought of helping out on the farm?”
“No, I’m not really a hard labour person, and aren’t there workers to do that?”
“Yes, they’re working, but they each have their own duties. Even Charlie worked every day. Now we are two workers short because of her and Martin.”
“What is it you think I can help them with?” Megan asked with a sceptical look.
“That you will have to ask Rubin, but I know they would appreciate any help.”
“I suppose doing almost anything is better than sitting around bored out of my skull.” Megan got up to leave.
“Wait, maybe you could help me first.”
Megan stopped. “I can’t cook.”
“No, it’s nothing like that. I need someone to help me clean the chicken coop.”
“Why don’t you just get one of the workers to do it?”
“Like I said before, they all have their own duties. I normally pay little Harry do it for me when he’s here, but the schools have started again. When Harry isn’t here, Charlie normally helps me, but now she is out of action.”
Charlie walked into the kitchen as Katrina spoke about her. “I’m out of action for what?”
“I just asked Megan to help me clean the chicken coop, seeing that you can’t do it.”
Charlie looked at Megan, then back at Katrina again. “Her?” She nodded towards Megan with her head. “In the chicken coop?” She laughed “Not in this lifetime.”
“Don’t be nasty Charlie.” Katrina could see that Megan was not happy with Charlie’s remark. The last thing she felt like now was seeing another argument between the two of them. “Megan has already said she’d help.” Katrina sent up a silent prayer that Megan wouldn’t correct her statement.
Charlie laughed again, shaking her head. “That I have to see.”
“You’re so full of yourself aren’t you?” Megan said coldly. “I’m not here for your entertainment, and if I say I’ll do something, I will.” Megan just hoped that her words wouldn’t come back to bite her, because she had no idea what the cleaning process would entail.
Katrina moved towards Megan and took her by the arm. “Let’s go Megan. There is no time like the present.” They were walking away when Megan turned to Charlie who was hobbling afterwards. “You were not invited. Go and find something else to amuse you.”
“At this moment, I can’t think of anything else that will be more amusing,” Charlie said with a smirk on her face.
“She’s right Charlie, go and find something else to do.” Katrina was trying to defuse the situation, because Megan looked like she was ready to explode and afflict some bodily harm on Charlie.
Katrina and Megan walked towards the chicken coop that was about five minutes walk away from the house.
“Why do you have chickens when this is not a chicken or an egg farm?”
“I only have enough chickens to supply everyone on the farm with fresh eggs and chickens. You’ve seen our vegetable garden, which is here for the same purpose. For me, part of the joy of living on a farm is having everything fresh. There’s nothing better.”
“What does this cleaning process entail?”
“Not much. Cleaning the feeding and watering units, sweeping the floors, and then using the water hose on it.”
“That sounds simple enough.”
When they reached the chicken coop, Katrina showed Megan where all the cleaning tools were. She also gave her a pair of rubber boots and gloves to put on. “Will you be ok doing this on your own?” Katrina tried hard to keep a straight face when she saw the consternation on Megan’s. It looked like she had serious reservations now about her offer to help.
When Megan saw what the chicken coop looked like, with all the chicken manure on the floor, she felt nauseous. She was trying to think of a way to get out of this, but when she thought of the self-righteous smirk on Charlie’s face earlier, the need to wipe it off her face was more important than all the chicken shit in the world.
“Yes, I’ll be just fine. You go and do whatever you need to. This will be done in a jiffy.”
“OK then. I’ll have a nice lunch ready for you when you’re done.”
Katrina walked back to the house while Megan put the rubber boots and gloves on. This was not something she was looking forward to. She started with cleaning the feeding and watering units, and refilling them. She couldn’t believe that it took her about forty minutes just to do that. She looked at the floor, and then at the hard bristle broom and the water hose Katrina had told her to use. “These people should think more productively.” She had a smile on her face as she thought of her plan. “Why would you want to sweep first, and then use the hose? It would be simpler just to use the hose, and increase the water pressure. It will definitely clean everything.”
Megan got to work on her plan. What she didn’t realise was that using that amount of water on the chicken manure, without sweeping it away first, was making the floor very slippery.
When Katrina got back to the house, she went looking for Charlie whom she found working in the study. “Do you have to be so mean towards Megan all the time?”
“She is the one with the attitude.”
“Blaming other people for your behaviour again?” Katrina was standing with her hands on her hips. “We have talked about this before Charlie. This is not the person you are, and if Claire had to see you now, she would be turning in her grave.”
“Kat, there is just something about her that makes me want to climb the walls. I can’t help myself.”
“Then maybe you need to look where these emotions are coming from, because it isn’t healthy for anyone.”
“Then you should talk to Megan as well. She jumps down my throat even when I haven’t done anything.”
“We are not talking about Megan, we are talking about you. You are a grown woman, not a child. Start acting like one. I’m the cook in this house, not the psychologist.”
“You know you are more than the cook in this house Kat. This is your home, and you are part of the family. Your advice means a lot to me.”
“Good. It only has to start from one side. You will see what a difference it will make.”
Megan had got about three quarters of the way through when her feet slipped out from under her. In pure cartoon character style, she was in the air for a second before she came crashing down onto her back. She hit her head on the floor and felt like she was caught in a slow motion moment.
When she realised she was lying in wet chicken manure she jumped up, but the quick movement just made her slip again, but this time forward. She was covered in chicken shit, and completely pissed off at herself. She crawled to an area where she could get up without going down again. She looked around the coop, and then down at herself. She thought about just getting out of there as quickly as she could. She could slip into the house from the back, and get cleaned up before anyone could see her, but that would mean that she would have to finish cleaning the coop first.
When she was done, she made her way back to the house. She could see Katrina and one of the workers in the front garden. She thought about just going in there, but didn’t know where Charlie would be, so she went towards the back entrance. As she crept around the corner, she found Charlie lying on one of the pool loungers in her bikini. It looked like she was asleep. Megan wanted to turn around, but couldn’t. Her eyes were fixed on Charlie’s perfect body. She ran her eyes over Charlie’s body from her broad shoulders to her breasts that were moving up and down as she was breathing. Megan could feel herself heating up from inside. She ran her eyes further over the washboard stomach to the muscular thighs. The only thing that looked like it didn’t belong there was the cast.
Megan was shocked out of her daze when Charlie moved. “Get a hold of yourself.” She was upset about her reaction to seeing Charlie like that. She moved quietly towards the door that opened into the dining room.
“I wouldn’t go into the house like that if I were you.”
Megan jumped at hearing the words.
“Let me guess. You decided to hose the floor without sweeping it first?” Charlie said in an even tone.
“Laugh and get it over with. This is what you waited for I’m sure,” Megan said accusingly, but her voice had a defeated tone to it.
“I’ll only laugh if you laugh with me. You have to admit, you do look funny with all that chicken shit on you.”
Megan glared at Charlie and saw that she wasn’t laughing. She turned towards the window and saw her reflection in it. She was covered in wet manure, and her hair was stringy with more pieces of manure hanging from it. She smiled and turned to Charlie. There was something strange between them right now, and Megan just felt like going along with it. “I sure do.” She started laughing, after which Charlie joined in.
“Glad I could add to your amusement today by looking like a sewer rat,” Megan said jokingly.
“A cute sewer rat,” Charlie added.
Megan looked at her reflection again, and shook her head. “I don’t think I have ever seen a cute sewer rat, and I sure don’t see one now.”
“Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. But even though I think you look like a cute sewer rat, I think we need to get you cleaned up before you go into the house.”
Megan looked at Charlie sceptically. “How do you propose we do that?”
“There are two ways. Either you go and take a dip in the pond with clothes and all, or you stand there while I hose you down. The choice is yours.”
Megan thought about it for a few seconds. “I think the hosing is a better option. I don’t like the idea of getting into water when I can’t see what’s at the bottom.”
“The hose it is then,” Charlie said as she got up and walked towards the outside tap with the hose attached to it. She liked the light atmosphere between them. She was aware though that it would have been different if she had just laughed at Megan, instead of talking to her first.
Charlie hosed Megan down while she turned around under the stream of water, trying to get all the chicken manure washed off. Charlie’s breathing got heavier as she watched Megan laughing and turning around like a kid. The cool water was making her nipples stand out, and now that she was completely drenched, they were more prominent. She quickly turned the water off and turned to put the hose away.
“I don’t think I’m completely clean yet.” Megan remarked when the water stopped. She had enjoyed Charlie’s eyes on her, and knew what they had been fixed on.
Charlie refused to turn around. “You’re clean enough to go into the house. You can use my towel lying by the lounger.”
Megan flinched at the tone in Charlie’s voice. She could feel that the comfortable air between them was gone. She thought about saying something, but decided against it. She walked towards the lounger and picked up the towel. Without looking back she walked into the house.
Charlie had an internal battle with herself. She wanted Megan so badly, but she knew she couldn’t give into the urge. Her feelings for Megan ran deeper than just a need. What was scaring her was the idea of seeing Megan walk away after the year was done.
“Just keep it cool Charlie,” she told herself. “She’ll only cause you pain. All she wants is to get through this year, and then be on her merry little way back to the world that she belongs in.”
Charlie watched Megan walk back into the house with the towel wrapped around herself. She felt an immense loss, but knew that the hurt would be more if they did start something, and then she had to lose her..
Charlie spoke to Katrina about Megan’s nightmares. She felt she couldn’t be the one to comfort Megan anymore and begged Katrina to speak to her, but she refused
“Megan will speak when she is good and ready to do so.”
“But Kat, what do I do in the meantime? I don’t even think she remembers having these nightmares.”
“You do what you have been doing every night since it started. She will remember when her mind feels she can cope with it. The body’s defence mechanisms are wonderful things.”
“I can’t. You don’t understand.”
“I might be old, but I am not blind. Why don’t you just speak to her about it?”
Charlie sighed. “No, I feel too much. I can’t allow her to have that much power over me. I will be the one suffering in the end.”
“Then let time tell. She might change.”
“Thanks Kat. I don’t know what I would have done without you and Claire in my life. Between the two of you, you have been my saviours.” Charlie hugged Katrina and gave her a kiss on the forehead..
The antagonistic relationship between Charlie and Megan changed. Charlie didn’t make any more smart remarks to Megan. Megan knew that things had changed, but didn’t like it. At least when they fought, she had a reaction from Charlie. Now she didn’t have anything. She even tried to provoke Charlie a few times, but to no avail. Nothing seemed to matter to Megan anymore. All she could think of was the look in Charlie’s eyes when she hosed her down. All she wanted was to have Charlie look at her like that again. A few times she even thought that she saw a glimpse of it, but it never remained.
Even after the chicken coop experience, Megan went to Rubin in order to help with the farm work. She didn’t think that there could be anything worse than that. Rubin was happy to show her the ropes. Harry and Rebecca got in on the training process as well when they were on the farm. It was great fun for them to show Megan, who was a grownup, how to do things. Harry even taught Megan how to milk a cow, which was another one of Katrina’s ideas to keep everything fresh. At least there were only four cows for milking.
Megan enjoyed learning, and spent a lot of time outside. Rubin and his kids were great teachers, and the other workers helped where possible. She got to know each of them individually, and ended up having respect for what they did. Eventually she realised that she didn’t miss her hectic life in the city. She really enjoyed getting up mornings, and didn’t even feel the weeks turning into months.
She felt frustrated with Charlie, but over time the emotion changed into anger. “Well, if that is what she is going to be like, then to hell with her.” She was pacing up and down in her room while talking to herself. “We could have had a good thing going during my stay here, but it’s her loss, I’m not running after her.””
Megan was repairing an area in the fence on the north side of the farm. One of the bulls has decided to try and ram the fence in search of greener pastures. Megan was convinced the greener pastures were actually the cows on the other side of the fence that the bull felt obligated to service. She smiled at her own thoughts. It was a stunning day with no wind. The sun was high, and the sweat was running down the side of her face. She was using her shirtsleeve to brush it away when she saw the rider approaching.
“About time,” she yelled at the person she thought was Rubin. “My stomach’s feeling like my mouth’s on strike.” She turned around again and continued her work.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” The words didn’t sound friendly at all. Megan just stood there without moving.
Charlie got off her horse and walked until she stood right behind Megan.
“I asked you a question.”
“I’m repairing a fence, what does it look like to you?” Megan responded in a mellow tone as she continued working.
“There are qualified people on this farm who get paid to do this.” Charlie grabbed Megan’s hand as she spun her around. “You have no business trying to mend fences.”
“I can do it as well as any of them, but for your information I am helping Martin out. He wanted to surprise his wife with a special anniversary gift. I gave him advice on what to get, but he needed time to go into town to get it.” She was getting angry and shoving her finger into Charlie’s face. All the built up frustration was pouring out in her words. “I don’t even know why I am defending myself. You don’t want anything to do with me, so what I do does not concern you. I make my own choices and I live with them. I do what I want, when I want, but I do consider the people around me. If anything, life on this farm has taught me that.” By now she was pushing Charlie backwards as she moved into her space. “But you wouldn’t know anything about that would you? You have been treating me like I have the plague or something worse these past few months, and all you can do is come down here and insult me some more.” Megan was past reason.
“Stop pushing me and stop yelling,” Charlie said in a rather calm voice.
“I will stop when I am ready, and not you or anyone else will tell me when that is.”
“If you don’t stop I will use other methods to make you stop.”
“Oh now you want to go all Amazon on me. You do not scare me. I have had enough of your attitude. There is just no pleasing you and I…”
Megan’s words were cut short as Charlie roughly pulled her into her arms and kissed her. She was responding to the kiss before she even registered what was happening, but once she did she wrapped her arms around Charlie to get closer to her. This was even better than her dreams.
Charlie couldn’t believe the response she was getting, and she couldn’t get herself to move away either. She had thought about doing this so many times, but never thought it would be like this.
Charlie eventually pulled away when she felt the need for air. She quickly turned around and walked to her horse without saying a word. Megan stared at her in disbelief. Once on the horse Charlie turned to Megan.
“Next time you should stop when I tell you to,” she said with a self-satisfied smirk on her face before she rode off.
“If that’s your method of shutting me up, I think I’ll soon be holding the record for the person that spoke the most,” Megan whispered, looking at Charlie’s retreating form.