Well this is the last chapter, for now anyway. But I'm already working on a new story that I should start to post sometime soon if you're interested. Either way, thanks for making it to the end! I've really enjoyed sharing this. :)
I don't like people.
They're flighty, unpredictable, and they seldom fail to disappoint.
In a way, Laura was exactly the same as all the rest. Disappointing. But unlike most people who raise your hopes first, make you think you can depend on them and then fail to come through, she started right off with a series of disappointments. She came out of nowhere, crashed my ute, and then tried to run away.
I don't know why I thought to keep her around. Maybe it was her surliness, her lack of apology. Those things are intriguing to a man like me, who's noticed that most people will be polite to you, even if they don't like you. It was refreshing to find someone with feelings worn right on her face. She'd say what she meant, and I liked that. Well, not always, but it was better than the false smiles and hollow pleasantries.
She reminded me of a wild animal at first: ragged, thin, wary. Frightened and ready to run. I'd dealt with animals like that before. I got a good feed in her, then gave her some room. You have to let wild animals alone if you want them to feel at ease with you. You let them come to you on their own terms.
I'll admit I grew fond of her quickly, despite my instincts. I'm not one to waste energy on people, because they're so good at disappointing. I kept expecting her to disappoint me again, but after that first encounter, she surprised me.
I didn't realize how fond I was of her until winter was over. I thought about her, wondered what it might be like to tell her, but I dared not. The more I wanted to tell her, the more I wanted her to stay, and I was fairly sure that telling her would drive her away. So I kept it to myself, even when it seemed she might not hate the thought of my interest in her.
I almost told her at the beginning of lambing season. She'd never seen a live birth; I could tell by the frantic way she fretted over the ewe. I could hardly tear her away to call for the vet. She was so pleased when he safely delivered the two lambs, but that's the way she is. She doesn't feel things in moderation. That's why she took the lamb's illness to heart. She wore herself out caring for the little creature, up all night with it. She wasn't going to leave that barn until one of them died or both of them walked out of there in good health.
That's when I knew I loved her. Seeing her with the lamb in her arms, worn ragged, but doggedly clinging to that little life with everything she had. I've never seen loyalty like that in all my acquaintances. The human ones, at least. And there I was, wishing she'd hold me like that lamb, look at me like that, cling to my life with all her strength.
It's an uncomfortable place for a man like me to be, feeling bare and open like that. But there she was, probably the only human being in existence that I'd ever wanted to keep around.
Yeah, I don't like getting sappy. It's not that it makes me feel less of a man. In fact, having feelings like that only makes you feel more of a man. But they're hallowed, almost. Something you don't talk about out of respect for them. And that's why it's alarming, and a little unnerving, because those feelings don't sit still inside you. You have to do something about them and hope things go right, or else bury them and try to forget them, which never really works because you have to do it all over again every day, and just when you've finally forgotten them, it's morning again, and there those feelings are, stronger than ever.
It was the most frightened I've ever been, that day she told me she had to leave. When she said it was because I didn't want her. I've been frightened before. There's no point in lying. I've been charged by a 100 kg boar that laid me flat on my back. I've felt the charge of lightning lift the hair on my neck, tingling up my arms before it struck not ten feet from where I stood. But death's not as terrible as the thought of losing the love of your life and a piece of your soul with her.
So I kissed her, and she chose to stay.
I still sit outside on a foggy morning, staring up the valley, wondering what a sharp, clever city girl like her ever saw in me. It's not good to think on things like that, and I've stopped trying to figure it out anyway. She just laughs when I ask. But I sit there and bask in the happy confusion of it, knowing I'll never have an answer, and that's all right, because some things aren't meant to have answers. They just are.
That's Laura. The girl without answers. Guess that means we're suited for each other, since I'm a man without questions.
Well…perhaps just one question.