The flat bed trailer banged ponderously along the bumpy road behind the hay filled pick-up. Empty beers cans from the night before rolled around the floorboards near Emma’s boots.
Emma grimaced, bouncing towards the ceiling of the cab. “Sid, will you please slow down?” Wiping her tear-stained eyes.
“Well, Emma,” Her husband mused, “maybe I can rattle that controlling brain of yours right through the roof. Even God gave me a will to choose.”
The afternoon sun spindled through the hazy pewter sky as they approached the couple’s ranch.
“Sid, Am I not worth keeping after a thirty-year commitment?” The Black-eyed Susan glare behind his tinted frames caused Emma to feel faint.
Sid motioned for Emma to open the gate. “Can you read your own writing, Emma? Maybe this time you’ll change and I’ll ease off the booze.”
Emma clutched her notepad bitterly before stepping away from the truck.
With eyebrows raised, she examined the handmade entrance to the thorny landscape. Corkscrew cacti studded with petite yellow flowers were braided into the leaning fence line.
Sid rolled his eyes.
“Just unhook the wire loop from the top of that post there, and then hold the gate open.” He said impatiently. “You would know that if you ever came out here.”
Closing the gate behind him she observed Sid unhitching the trailer near the entrance. A trail of Emma’s favorite peppermint fell into the miry tracks set behind his wheels.
The sketchy charges Sid expressed about her in the truck had looked familiar and weren’t very attractive.
“‘Already has a mother…Don’t like my friends…Calling names…How many beers?’”
Sid’s truck sharply reeled forward. With a devised jolt of the brakes, a jumbo bale spiraled from the open bed of the truck. With a spongy threshing sound it settled upon the frozen Caliches ground.
“Darn it, Sid. I’ve apologized for some of those offenses already.” Emma held her arms out to the side with her head hanging on her scarf.
“Emma, what are you doing?”
“I’m illustrating what Jesus had to bore on the cross for every stupid thing I’ll do and the unforgiving account you’ve held against me.”
Sid hoisted two rusty buckets of grain like a balanced scale.
“I could use a face lift, Sid, instead of you beholding this ugly woman in your mind.”
“And how about the poor slob in your own mind, Emma?”
Mooing Black Angus with yellow tags dangling from their felt rich lobes, obediently followed Sid to their rubber feeding bowls.
“I didn’t know you had cows out here, Sid. And those bowls are made out of tires?”
“We have horses too but what does this alcoholic accountant know? Between the kids, the computer, and your new bible nerds, what do you need me for?” Sid propped a slanted gutter beneath the water tank valve, water gushed into the child-size pool.
In the grieving silence that suddenly swept up between them, the pounding wind bullied Emma’s backside as she turned away to cry.
Emma imagined a similarity between her unyielding judgment towards her own rebellious husband and the snaky Mesquite limbs bobbing in the powdery soil. Mature in stature, but just scraping life’s surface with dwarfed fruit.
“Go! Get!” Clapping and breathless commands from Sid echoed as he chased the vexing nags away from the cow’s feed down the hill.
Moved by her husband’s resourcefulness all these years and farmstead passions, joy rose up in Emma’s spirit. God placed Sid as the head of our household. Of course he would be jealous if I didn’t share time with him or share in his dreams. Duh…, God, Himself, is a jealous God. I wonder if Sid knows he is wedded to a jackass?
“Emma, come and get it.” Emma grinned. How dare he coax me like one of his pets? She turned quickly to scold Sid but with velvet on her tongue.
Emma howled with laughter.
“Meet, Burrito.” Standing knock kneed the mule’s old lady-size limbs supported her barrel-shaped form.
With a trusting beady expression, Burrito allowed Emma to stroke his shaggy mahogany coat and slipper soft ears.
“Hey, aren’t those peppermints for me?”
Flagging his pink tongue in a rolling fashion and flaring his nostrils with wet, raspy puffs, Burrito snatched the candy ball from Sid’s calloused palm. With a pulverizing crunch, an odor of refreshing mint wafted through the air.
“Takes one to know one, huh, Emma?" Sid surmised sheepishly. “And yes, you are worth another thirty years.”
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