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    Parker Owens
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

A to Z - 22. Quiet Days

Quiet Week

No special warnings for this chapter.

Questions and issues raised in this chapter or any other chapter can be discussed at the A to Z story thread here: http://www.gayauthors.org/forums/topic/40860-a-to-z/

July 17 - Sunday

"I forgot to tell you. I saw Toby in town on Friday." Eustace spoke those words almost a week ago – Monday – while we were cutting some brushy growth along a fence line.

Inwardly, I tensed. On the outside, I shrugged and waited.

"Said to tell you he was sorry," the old man went on. "Don't know about what, but I've passed the message on."

Sorry. What the hell would Toby be sorry about? My own stupidity? What happened wasn't his fault, not really.

I shrugged again. "Thanks."

That was the end of it. Or, at least, I thought so.

It has been another week since I wrote last. A quiet week. No big adventures, just a whole lot of work. Given my track record for adventures, that’s good. I’ve been working for Eustace Whitley for what, two, three weeks now, and it feels like I’ve always been here. I feel almost settled. I’ve got a good routine going.

Up at 5:30 with the watch alarm. Soap up and soak yesterday’s clothes in the bucket. Clean myself up under the hose while the clothes soak. Rinse everything out, hang everything out to dry as best I can up in the loft. Dress. Eat a scrap of something. Get down the ladder to work.

I do my best to make the most out of lunch, or ‘dinner,’ as Eustace calls it. He makes it pretty hearty, and that’s fine by me.

I’ve figured out that if I volunteer to help out in the vegetable garden after work, I can get away with a few peas, or some greens in my pocket to tide me over until later. I'd steal a cucumber, but there aren't enough of them ready. The theft would be too obvious. The squash aren’t quite ready yet, or I’d get some of those, too. I'm ashamed that I steal food from Eustace, but my biggest problem is still that I am always hungry.

After I finish, I wave goodbye, walk down the road toward Andersonville and then loop back to the barn out of sight of the house. Often, I just keep going and hike down to the river to watch it flow slowly by.

Once my ribs and ego healed from the disaster at Toby's, I took advantage of the long evening light to walk west along the river road at the bottom of the hill, away from Andersonville. A little under two hours of fast walking got me to the village of East Akron. There isn’t much to East Akron – I noticed a small school building, which must include “Akron High,” the school Ambrose talked about. Best of all, I found a lonely looking gas station and convenience store in what was likely the center of town.

I've returned there to buy essential supplies with some of my earnings: some breakfast and supper items, soap, and the first toothbrush and toothpaste I’ve had since leaving Carlsberg. God knows, I needed it. Despite getting back to the barn well after dark, the trip was worth it.

As I headed down the hill one evening, I got curious about a little two-track road leading up into the woods. I had to investigate. I had plenty of time on my hands, so why not? The lane wound its way to a clearing some ways into the forest, and there stood a neat little cabin, complete with a shaded porch and rocking chair. There was no car or any evidence that anyone lived there. I gathered my courage together and peeked in the window. It looked totally empty as I peered into the shadows. I tried the door, but found it locked.

Here was a mystery, and I wondered how to ask Eustace about it.

I've actually spent a couple of warm evenings there, sitting on the rocker, staring into the trees in the fading light, wondering how I got here. Despite what happened in New Salem on the Fourth of July, I think I've been pretty lucky. I eat, I have a place to sleep, and I get paid for the work I do. Even with my trips to East Akron, I've saved a ton of money already. It sits in a tight roll at the bottom of my pack.

Meanwhile, the chores and projects just keep multiplying. Eustace wants to build a shelter for the sheep in the upper pasture. He ordered some lumber in for it, and it arrived a few days ago. We’ve started cutting firewood for next winter. We’ve been haying. The gutters on the barn and the doors on the tractor shed needed mending. The front porch floor is going to get painted. And then there are the machines to tend to.

I’ve learned a lot.

Since we’ve been cutting winter firewood, I’ve had to learn how to use a chainsaw. And an ax. And a bow saw. There’s a whole process to this. It begins by walking through a patch of woods and marking trees that Eustace thinks should be cut. These get felled and trimmed of their branches. Larger limbs get sawn into lengths that will fit in the wood stoves, the main trunk gets cut into chunks that will get split later on and the smaller stuff gets cut for “kindling wood” that is used to start fires. I guess it’s more accurate to say that we’ve been cutting firewood for the winter in eighteen months’ time, so that it has time to “season,” as Eustace put it. Not to worry, I’ve been learning how to use a splitter on the stuff they cut last year.

I’ve put in long hours doing firewood, and I’m told there’s lots more to do.

Eustace also gave me a series of lessons on the tractors. I can drive the little grey Ford tractor now. I was scared witless of it to start with, but Eustace had a lot of patience with me until I got the hang of it. The first time I actually drove it on my own, my heart hammered away in my chest, because I was afraid I’d do something stupid like crash it into a tree.

But nothing like that occurred.

The other tractor, a much bigger Allis-Chalmers, was a tougher job. For one thing, it needed a lot of fussy repair work that Eustace had put off for a while, making do with the smaller machine. The old man’s stubborn streak was on full display, because he insisted that he could do it all himself.

But I was interested enough to learn about it, and soon we began working on it together, a little at a time, after the other jobs were finished. I helped him ease off the bolts to the power takeoff unit so that we could take apart the mechanism and fix it. We worked together on the steering coupling which had deteriorated with the years. We changed one of the big, cracked rubber tires. I was able to help lift and hold some pretty heavy metal parts in place – I can’t even remember their names. I learned some of the art of maintaining this big orange beast, day by day, each hour or so spent on it wrung from the other chores of the day.

I learned about the haying equipment; the mower, the rake, and the “tedder” which fluffs up new mown hay. And, of course, the baler, with its tricky twine apparatus.

This week has been clear, dry and hot, so it’s perfect for haying. Eustace has several hay fields, and he has permission to cut hay on several pastures belonging to other people, too. Eustace taught me how to work the mower on Monday. By Wednesday evening, he let me try mowing the rest of the upper pasture on my own. He stood by, watching me as I made pass after pass around the field, cutting down swathes of tall grass. When I was done, I drove over to where he was standing.

“You’re shaping up well,” Eustace said quietly, after I’d finished and shut off the engine.

I nodded, a little pleased with myself. But another part of me wanted to warn him that I would probably screw something up big time. I always managed to. Nothing was said as we both stared off over the new-mown grass and woods beyond. The field was hushed, and we heard no sounds at all but the songs of crickets and birds serenading us.

“Tomorrow, you’re going to rake and ted this bit on your own, while I go into town on an errand. You up to it?”

“Sure,” I replied, sounding way more confident than I felt.

“If it’s still dry Friday, we can run the baler through this on Friday morning. That’ll give the kids something to do.”

I looked at him quizzically.

“Ambrose and the kids are coming down Friday night. Haying is good for them.”

“Oh,” I said.

My mind was elsewhere. I’d gotten comfortable in the barn, and I realized I would have to adjust my living space to having a whole new layer of hay stacked on top of it. I almost missed what he said next.

“Thought I’d let the kids sleep out in the hunting camp for a couple of nights. We’ll need to clean it up for them tomorrow, too. Maybe in the morning.”

My confusion must have shown on my face.

“Oh. You don’t know about the hunting camp, do you? It’s down in the lower woodlot. I’ll show it to you tomorrow morning.”

It dawned on me almost immediately where the hunting camp must be. “OK,” I nodded.

Eustace made to climb onto the hitch connecting the tractor and the mower. “How about you drive us down to the house so we can pick a little something for supper?”

I nodded again and fired up the tractor. Soon we were rolling gently back down to the shed. Another task awaited on our arrival. Eustace hopped off the tractor and headed up to the garden. I followed along more slowly. When I arrived, he was already at work, picking greens.

“Would you mind weeding that far row over there tonight?” He pointed toward the end of the garden where the corn, squash and potato plants stood.

“No problem.” I moved to get a bucket for weeds.

It’s amazing how fast weeds seem to grow in a week. By the time I was done, I had a big bucketful of weeds for the compost pile, and Eustace had two buckets full of stuff he’d picked. He motioned for me to follow him into the house. Inside, he put a huge heap of greens into a plastic bag, a big bunch of radishes in another, and some peas and a couple of very small green squashes in a third.

“When you go home, you give these to old Thatch, all right? You tell him I’m grateful.”

Old Thatch? I know my face looked totally blank. Oh, right. ‘T. Anderson’ at the old house down in Andersonville. The place where I was supposed to be living this summer.

“Sure.”

I wondered what he was grateful for. Probably some favor exchanged months ago. Eustace Whitley didn’t seem like a man to forget a good turn.

What it meant, though, was that I would have to deliver these presents to a man I was supposed to be neighbors with, but who I’d never met. Tonight. And I recalled that he had a big, noisy dog. Suddenly, I felt scared.

But there was no putting it off. Eustace had asked me to take these veggies to Thatch Anderson, and to Thatch Anderson they would go. I was not going to bail on Eustace Whitley.

By the time I got down to Andersonville, my heart was pounding away like a big bass drum in my chest. I could feel sweat running down my neck as I walked up the driveway past the mailbox toward the low, grey-white house.

The dog started barking away before I even got to knock on the shabby door. I could see through the dirty window into a shadowed kitchen, where it stood near, snarling and hurling canine insults at me through the glass. I was about to give it up when I saw a figure with a cane slowly enter the kitchen.

An old man, twisted and bent over, tried to peer up at me, hoping to identify the stranger at the door. I heard him speak sharply to the dog, which fell silent. I heard the latch turn, and the door opened an inch.

“Yes?” an old voice, aged and cracked.

“I work for Eustace Whitley” no lies there. “He sent me down with these.” I held up the bags.

“Old Whitley sent me what?” the old fellow asked, straining to understand.

“Some vegetables from his garden,” I spoke up a little louder, holding the bags closer so they could be seen better. “I’m also supposed to tell you that he’s grateful.”

The door opened a little wider, and the little gnome of a man cocked his head and looked keenly at me, then at the offerings I held up. The dog slipped out and began sniffing around my ankles and legs furiously.

Suspiciously, he reached out an old, withered hand and took the bags I held.

“I can’t recall why Old Whitley feels grateful, but you can tell him I take this very neighborly. Very neighborly of him, indeed.”

“Yessir,” I returned.

“Micah!” the old man cried at the dog, “get in!”

The big dog hustled back inside. The old man turned aside and closed the door behind him. That was all. I let out a big sigh of relief.

Later, back in the barn, I decided to rearrange the loft. I built myself a private room out of hay bales, so that I would still have my own space no matter how much hay we stacked in here over the weekend. By moving a couple of bales, I could crawl inside a reasonably spacious room, sort of like an igloo. I made sure to construct a kind of chimney so the air could vent out. It was late when I finished – I chanced leaving a light on in the barn as I stacked bales with great care to build a structure tough enough to hold the weight piled on top of it.

I slept in my new quarters that night.

New quarters didn’t mean better dreams. Dad was back, just like so many nightmares before. In these dreams, I’m usually back at home, in the kitchen or my room. This time, Dad entered and picked a fight. In the dream, I knew what was going to happen. I knew I was about to get beaten, and I wanted to run, but somehow, I couldn’t. I felt glued to my place. As before, I got whipped, or kicked or just pummeled, and I woke up, heart racing, wanting to scream. But I somehow knew I needed to keep quiet. Later, asleep again, the next dream event unfolded. I dreamt that Dad was forcing me to suck him off, fucking my face, suffocating me with his cock. But when I looked at him in my dream, he wore the face of Roger Green Hat. And the worst of it was that I was hard when I woke up.

Eustace took me down to the cabin in the woods Thursday morning after chores. He called it the hunting camp, and we reached it using a shortcut path through the woods directly from the barn, instead of taking the road. It turned out the key to the door lay on the ledge of the porch roof overhead. If you know it’s there, all you have to do is reach up and feel for it.

We swept the place out and wiped off the old mattresses. We made sure there was some toilet paper in the old outhouse behind the cabin. It looked like a fun spot. Maybe I'll spend a night there sometime.

After lunch, Eustace washed and changed, while I went out and hitched up the tedder to the back of the little grey Ford tractor. I felt like I might puke, I was so tense. If something went wrong, I couldn’t imagine what would happen. I stood there, fiddling with the hitch when Eustace walked up, all clean and ready for business in town. He looked over my preparations.

“Looks good to get going,” he said cheerfully and turned to get into the truck parked nearby.

“If you get done before I get back, you can just head on home,” he called out.

I nodded and waved as he backed out and drove off. Now I was alone with the tractor and the task. Nothing else for it. I mounted the tractor and started it up, just as I had learned to do. I eased it into gear and headed off, the tedder following along obediently behind.

And that was it. The tedder and I fluffed up the hay in the upper pasture without a problem. Then I went back, hitched up the rake, and brought it up, too. I began to feel almost comfortable – proud, even – at the sight of the relatively neat, ordered rows of hay I’d left behind the machine in the afternoon sun.

And then, everything changed. A sickening crash from the hay rake machine told me something had gone very wrong. I jerked the tractor to a stop and killed the engine in a flash. With my heart hammering away in my chest, I scrambled down to inspect the damage.

What would happen now? I knew Eustace wasn’t Dad, but I’d never seen him really angry. What would he do to me now that I’d wrecked the rake? Feverishly, I searched for the problem.

It turned out to be pretty obvious. A bolt had come loose, and one of the bars holding the rake teeth had fallen. It didn’t look like much had been damaged, but I couldn’t tow the rake back to the shed with it dragging on the ground. Now what?

I checked the ground behind the rake for the missing bolt. No luck. I wasn’t about to just unhitch the rake and leave it. I wiped the sweat off my face. It wasn’t just the heat that was bothering me. I looked down at my boots. Laces. I could use a bootlace to tie up the bar temporarily so it would be out of the way while I drove back. I sighed, unlaced my left boot, and, after a fair bit of messing about, got the bar tied up so the rake could go back to the tractor shed.

Slowly, with painful care, I drove back to the tractor shed. As I arrived, I decided I’d try to fix the problem I’d caused. Besides, that way, I’d get my shoelace back. I expected Eustace to be waiting for me, knowing somehow that I’d screwed up.

But no, he wasn’t back yet.

Once parked, I dashed into the tractor shed. Thank God Eustace is a neat and orderly sort of farmer. I found a drawer marked ‘Bolts,’ selected a few possibilities, got some tools from the bench, and headed back out into daylight. Once I found a bolt that fit, my heart rate slowed way down. It didn’t take me too long to get the rake put back together, and I wondered what to do next as I put the tools and extra bolts away.

I’d raked and tedded, just as Eustace asked. I was done and he wasn’t back. I could go home – but I had no wish to head into the heat of the barn to hide. So I tended the garden, as usual. There were beans to pick, some of the first ones. I got an idea. I gathered a number of these, along with some greens, and went inside.

By now, I was pretty familiar with the Whitley kitchen. The freezer had some ground beef. Potatoes in the basket. I washed up and began making meatloaf. This was something I could do in my sleep – I’d done it lots of times, often with Dad giving me hell, often aching after a beating, often bone tired.

Now, I hurried to be ready before Eustace came home. No time to think, just do.

I thought in neat steps: quick thaw the meat in the microwave. Clean some potatoes, boil water. Locate a bowl. Meat and dry ingredients – make the meatloaf. Search for a loaf pan. Oven on. Potatoes into boiling water. Wash beans, lettuce. Slice the last tomato.

With all this done, I had just time to glance at my watch. I had to hustle.

I bolted out the door and behind the barn to get the night pen open. I made it down to the pasture at a dead run. With the gate open, my feet tapped anxiously as the sheep ambled back across the road and up the hill. Back up the slope, I banged the gate shut behind the last straggler. Moments later, back at the house, the dogs panted at my heels.

Off came my boots. I skidded into the kitchen. More simple steps: food and water for the dogs. Potatoes off, find a masher in the drawer. Mash up the potatoes, leaving their thin skins on – add butter, cover the pot. Pile fresh beans on a plate.

As I finished throwing the salad together, I heard the kitchen door open, and Eustace walked in with his arms full of groceries.

I won’t forget the surprise on Eustace’s face. He wanted to say something, but it just wouldn’t come out.

Finally, “Smells good in here, young Eric.” It comes out softly. “What’ve you been up to?”

“Meatloaf,” I grinned back at him.

His eyes went wide, and then he laughed, good and loud. The dogs on the porch scrambled to the screen door. “You’ve been up to meatloaf, huh?”

I nodded. “I hope that’s all right.”

“It surely is,” he said more quietly.

He moved to put his bags on the counter. As he put groceries away, I set the table. For once, Eustace Whitley was going to be waited on.

“Hey, just a second,” I heard him say behind me, “You only set one place. Where am I supposed to eat?”

I stopped short. At home, with Dad, this was always the way it worked. I’d set for him, and he ate. If he left anything for me, then I could eat – if he allowed it – and only after I cleaned up and cleared everything away. If I was quiet, I could eat while Dad watched TV. I hardly thought about doing otherwise. I turned to him.

“This…this is your place,” I hesitated, “I’ll eat later…um, at home.”

“What?” he looked almost pained, his voice sharp. “Don’t even think that. Set another place.”

I hung my head and moved set another place at the table. I must have spoiled everything. The timer rang for the meatloaf, so I served up quietly. We sat. Eustace murmured a grace, and we began to eat.

I figured I better tell him about the hay rake. Eustace had started to say something, but I cut him off.

“I broke the hay rake this afternoon.”

Eustace looked at me with a raised eyebrow and paused in his chewing.

“A bolt must have come loose on one of the bars, and the bar fell down. I stopped the tractor and everything quick, but I couldn’t find the bolt.”

Eustace resumed chewing then nodded.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t…”

“Young Eric, stop,” he spoke firmly. “You did just right. That old rake is always shaking bits and pieces of itself loose, and it isn’t any fault of yours that it decided to do it to you on your first time.”

I began to feel a little better.

“I suppose you unhitched the rake and brought the tractor back down?”

I shook my head. “I tied up the bar with my shoelace and then towed it back down.”

Eustace looked back at me, surprised. “That’s pretty enterprising of you. I can try to fix it later this week.”

He returned to his supper.

“I already tried to fix it,” I said, quietly.

Another pause. Another surprised look. “And?”

“And I think it might be OK, but I don’t really know. It might be all wrong…”

He held up a hand. Eustace calmly took a mouthful of mashed potatoes. Finishing, he put down his fork, and leaned toward me. He reached out, as if to ruffle my hair or something. It was kind of a sudden movement, and I started. I couldn’t help it. It was just an old habit. I’d lived with Dad too long.

Eustace looked at me oddly. Then his expression softened. “Young Eric, I’ll have a look at it. Later. If you did as well trying to fix that doggone rake as you did with supper, it’ll be fine.”

I nodded, happy not to be in trouble.

“You haven’t eaten a bite,” he went on. “You really ought to try it. It’s very good.”

And with that, he went back to his meal.

Toby showed up yesterday. He was waiting next to his pickup parked at the barn as we towed a load of hay down. Eustace was driving, Ambrose and Gerry sat on the back of the trailer; Gene rode on the trailer hitch, and I rode on the hay stack. Eustace halted the tractor and I watched Toby and him talk. I couldn't hear anything over the tractor motor, but Eustace twisted in his seat and waved me down off the trailer.

I scrambled off.

"Eustace says he can spare you for a minute," Toby spoke loudly enough to be heard. "Can we talk?"

I glanced over at Eustace, who smiled and nodded. He let out the clutch on the tractor and eased it forward so to begin backing the trailer into the barn.

Toby and I walked a few steps away toward the tractor shed. He seemed embarrassed.

"Eustace told me what you said," I began, "you didn't have to worry."

Toby made a face. "I got your message, too. I'm glad you got home safely after the fireworks."

I'd left a message – my first phone message ever – when Eustace told me to call.

I nodded. "Sorry about that," I told him. "I should have told you I was leaving." No way was I going to explain why I left.

"No, I'm sorry, Eric. I kinda got too wrapped up in being with Candace, and…I mean, I saw you with Maddie and her friends at the fireworks, and you seemed to be doing fine on your own without me. And then back at the house, too. I thought maybe you and her had…you know…" he concluded, leaving the obvious unsaid.

I shrugged. I wasn't handing out information.

"It's just…I asked you to come, and then…well, I lost track of you. I'm really sorry about that. It was shitty of me."

Toby was sorry about that? Impossible. Besides, nobody apologizes to me. Why would they? No. I was the one who messed up. I was the one who couldn't just be normal, for once.

Toby was still talking. "…and when it came time to drive you back to Andersonville, I couldn't find you anywhere. Nobody had seen you or Maddie. I didn't know which Anderson to call, so I called Eustace."

"It's okay, Toby. You didn't do anything wrong," I muttered, looking down at my shoes. I was the one who shouldn't have messed things up by going out in the first place. I was ashamed of what had happened. I should have tried harder to be more invisible, should have not caused trouble in the first place. Like I always do.

"No, it's not okay. I asked you over for fireworks and some fun and I promised you a ride home, and I didn't deliver." His face was serious when I finally looked up. But then he smirked a little. "So, what did you and Maddie get up to? Where did you wind up going?"

If Toby didn't know what really happened, I wasn't going to tell him the truth. Let him make up his own story.

I shrugged and tried to smile back. "Nowhere much."

After a moment or two, Toby's face split into a smile. "I get it. Nowhere much. Huh." He checked his watch. "Well, listen, Mr. Nowhere much, I'm on my way to pick up Candace, but you gotta stop by the next time you're up in the big city, okay? Eustace can't work you every day."

Like that was going to happen. Like Toby would want a repeat of the last catastrophe. I nodded anyway. At least Toby didn't seem to hate me, and I could rest easier with that.

This morning, Sunday, I had a better dream. Once again, I dreamt I was being held in someone’s arms. This dream has come before, several times. I woke to the almost tangible sensation that I was safe. Loved. I didn’t want to wake up and lose that feeling. I couldn’t figure out whose arms were around me in my dream, and that got my brain going. My dream never shows me who it is that hugs me close. It makes me wonder if dreams are just meant to tell us about things we yearn for, but which can never be.

Ugh. That’s a depressing thought. But, quite probably true.

Craftingmom provided invaluable editing expertise for this chapter. I am deeply in her debt.

Please leave a review. Your comments and remarks of any variety will be most welcome.

Copyright © 2016 Parker Owens; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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Hmmm. Nice.. sad in spots, but nice. Eric is slowly being gentled down like a frantic horse. The dreams of loving arm kinda say it's working. One peg at a time.

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On 11/08/2015 07:01 AM, Mikiesboy said:

Hmmm. Nice.. sad in spots, but nice. Eric is slowly being gentled down like a frantic horse. The dreams of loving arm kinda say it's working. One peg at a time.

Definitely one slow peg at a time. You have said it beautifully, as usual Tim. Eric has a long way to go before joy can peek in around the corner, I think.

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Somehow I thought this chapter was longer than usual (not complaining), but when I checked, I saw I was wrong. Maybe it was the fact there seemed to be so many different places? references? emotions? experiences? ... idk but I liked it. :)

 

Toby's out of Eric's world for a while, I think. Is there any way he could find out what really happened? Now that would prove interesting. :devil: Unnecessary, but interesting ...hehe.

 

I love the relationship growing between Eric and his benefactor. Did I detect the old man beginning to rely a bit on Eric? I hope nothing causes Eric to shy away for a while, he's slowly learning to be appreciated. It'll surely help him in the future. :thumbup:

 

Nice going, my friend! :2thumbs:
Anticipating more.

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Slow steps of progress here. Eric dreaming of comfort instead of being beaten. Eustace showing him compassion. I'm liking the progression of the story so far. :)

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On 11/08/2015 08:05 AM, skinnydragon said:

Somehow I thought this chapter was longer than usual (not complaining), but when I checked, I saw I was wrong. Maybe it was the fact there seemed to be so many different places? references? emotions? experiences? ... idk but I liked it. :)

 

Toby's out of Eric's world for a while, I think. Is there any way he could find out what really happened? Now that would prove interesting. :devil: Unnecessary, but interesting ...hehe.

 

I love the relationship growing between Eric and his benefactor. Did I detect the old man beginning to rely a bit on Eric? I hope nothing causes Eric to shy away for a while, he's slowly learning to be appreciated. It'll surely help him in the future. :thumbup:

 

Nice going, my friend! :2thumbs:

Anticipating more.

You perceive rightly that the speed of the chapter, and of Eric's life has shifted to s-l-o-w. He's going to work very hard and try to do those things that make him feel successful. Best of all Eustace seems to be the right man for that job. At Eustace's age, he might come to rely on Eric, but be too stubborn himself to admit it. Eric is going to go through much that is new to him, I think. Thanks so much for a very, very insightful and interesting review.

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On 11/08/2015 12:54 PM, Valkyrie said:

Slow steps of progress here. Eric dreaming of comfort instead of being beaten. Eustace showing him compassion. I'm liking the progression of the story so far. :)

Thank you for your very kind words. This July is one of slow discovery for Eric. Mostly gentle (fireworks excepted), incremental progress. A lot like real life, honestly. One day, someone will look at Eric and remark how much he's changed, but perhaps he won't notice while it's happening. Writing about how Eustace and Eric work together (and live together, in a way) was great fun for me. I hope you will continue to enjoy the story!

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This was a nice chapter, but I almost felt like there was a shake up coming any minute. Things are going so well. Eustace is so good at thwarting Eric's expectations of verbal abuse and put downs. You can almost always feel his surprise when Eustace shows tolerance and concern. He needs more of that, and more dreams of loving arms...

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On 11/09/2015 04:35 AM, Defiance19 said:

This was a nice chapter, but I almost felt like there was a shake up coming any minute. Things are going so well. Eustace is so good at thwarting Eric's expectations of verbal abuse and put downs. You can almost always feel his surprise when Eustace shows tolerance and concern. He needs more of that, and more dreams of loving arms...

Eric needs many good days, and many god dreams to convince him that the world is a good and safe place to be in. Eustace, in just being who he appears to be, is doing just that. It's also true that Eric would have to have a whole lot of trouble believing in any lasting good. But Eric's development is likely to be slow and incremental. Kind of like the long hot days of summer, really. They appear endless, but suddenly, bam, it's over. Thank you so much for reviewing the chapter, and for sticking with the story thus far.

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I really need to go back and hit the 'Like' button for all the chapters I'm not reviewing.

 

I must admit (I don't remember if it was in this chapter or the one before), when Eustace was explaining to Eric everything they STILL needed to do on the farm, I was about ready to pass out from exhaustion! Just from reading about all the things that still had to be done! What an exhausting job!

 

Eric is proving to be very smart with figuring out what he needs to do to fix things. I'm glad he sees that not all people are like his asshole sperm donor. Eustace would never hit him just because he may have broken something, or just because he felt like it.

 

That whole debacle (in the previous chapters or two), with Redhead beating up Eric over Maddie. What an ass that kid is! Obviously Maddie knew Red would be jealous, how could she not, considering Red thought Maddie and himself were together. I can see Eric being humiliated and embarrassed, but shit, he should have told Eustace what happened. How can he leave it at that when Eustace thinks HE was fighting and drinking it up? Well, he was drinking, but it's not like he was causing trouble because of it.

 

I wonder what will happen once the Andersons from Andersonville finally find out what's going on with their "long lost relative"? lol You know sooner or later something will happen -- Eric can't hide out in Eustace's barn forever. :no:

 

Oh, and thank GOD he bought a toothbrush and toothpaste!!!!! It's funny because all I kept thinking ever since he left his hometown was omg, he hasn't brushed his teeth in forever!!! But where oh where does he go to the bathroom? lol

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On 12/21/2015 06:30 AM, Lisa said:

I really need to go back and hit the 'Like' button for all the chapters I'm not reviewing.

 

I must admit (I don't remember if it was in this chapter or the one before), when Eustace was explaining to Eric everything they STILL needed to do on the farm, I was about ready to pass out from exhaustion! Just from reading about all the things that still had to be done! What an exhausting job!

 

Eric is proving to be very smart with figuring out what he needs to do to fix things. I'm glad he sees that not all people are like his asshole sperm donor. Eustace would never hit him just because he may have broken something, or just because he felt like it.

 

That whole debacle (in the previous chapters or two), with Redhead beating up Eric over Maddie. What an ass that kid is! Obviously Maddie knew Red would be jealous, how could she not, considering Red thought Maddie and himself were together. I can see Eric being humiliated and embarrassed, but shit, he should have told Eustace what happened. How can he leave it at that when Eustace thinks HE was fighting and drinking it up? Well, he was drinking, but it's not like he was causing trouble because of it.

 

I wonder what will happen once the Andersons from Andersonville finally find out what's going on with their "long lost relative"? lol You know sooner or later something will happen -- Eric can't hide out in Eustace's barn forever. :no:

 

Oh, and thank GOD he bought a toothbrush and toothpaste!!!!! It's funny because all I kept thinking ever since he left his hometown was omg, he hasn't brushed his teeth in forever!!! But where oh where does he go to the bathroom? lol

Thank you so much for your lengthy and thoughtful review. Eric is discovering farm work. It has its satisfactions and rewards, as well as its day to day drudgery. It is very hard work. For Eric, it is a chance to feel rewarded and praised for the hard work he puts in - something his brute of a father never let him experience. He's gaining experience, and maybe a little confidence and plenty of muscle. He also gets to eat more often than he has been on the road. The problem of the real Andersons is always looming on the horizon. As for telling Eustace what really happened at Toby's place, that seemed unlikely. Yes, Eustace was speaking unjustly, but Eric has learned by bitter experience never to tell adults anything. It hurts to do so. Better to just shut up and take it. It's what his father taught him to do. The problem of washing and brushing up wasn't important until Eric had to be in contact with someone every day. Eric probably uses Eustace's bathroom in the house whenever he can, and the field margins or the woods when he can't. Ugh. I really appreciate your taking then time to read the story and to write your thoughtful reviews.

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It's nice that Eric had a comforting dream for once.

 

And I like that Eric is beginning to understand that he is appreciated by Eustace for the extra things he's done. Eric showed quite a bit of initiative!

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On 07/06/2016 03:16 AM, droughtquake said:

It's nice that Eric had a comforting dream for once.

 

And I like that Eric is beginning to understand that he is appreciated by Eustace for the extra things he's done. Eric showed quite a bit of initiative!

Eric has gotten subtly but definitely rewarded almost since starting out with Eustace. That kind of kindness is paying off in the way Eric is beginning to do things on his own. And yes Eric. could use some real comfort, not just the dream variety...

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The hard part of this story is that very realistically it is going to take a long time for Eric to solve his problems. The first 16 odd chapters were relentless as he struggled. He has gained a measure of stability but one can see some setbacks ahead even if there is a rainbow way down the line. I am in awe at how you measure out the growth. It is much easier to take fast dramatic leaps forward which ignore the long term damage Eric has suffered.
That all said I am very invested now and would be crushed if our boy doesn't make it in the end

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On 02/13/2017 01:44 AM, Rndmrunner said:

The hard part of this story is that very realistically it is going to take a long time for Eric to solve his problems. The first 16 odd chapters were relentless as he struggled. He has gained a measure of stability but one can see some setbacks ahead even if there is a rainbow way down the line. I am in awe at how you measure out the growth. It is much easier to take fast dramatic leaps forward which ignore the long term damage Eric has suffered.

That all said I am very invested now and would be crushed if our boy doesn't make it in the end

Growth and change are slow processes. They of go unmarked and get glossed over in fiction. I have tried not to let that happen here. Thank you for reaffirming me in my decision. I am very grateful for that.

 

I hope you continue to enjoy the story.

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Good to see Toby and Stefan doing well and speaking after what was an eventful night. Stefan still gets very nervous when he slips up slightly, a trait his father has implemented into him because of the awful way he treated him.

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2 hours ago, Higster said:

Good to see Toby and Stefan doing well and speaking after what was an eventful night. Stefan still gets very nervous when he slips up slightly, a trait his father has implemented into him because of the awful way he treated him.

 

Toby and Eric at least reconnected. You’re right that he will always get nervous about slipping up - too many bad memories to do otherwise. But at least Eric is eating at safe. The farm has been good to him. Thanks so much for your comments and thoughts. 

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Hmm, I guess Toby is OK, since he apologized. And Eric did well with the rake and making supper for Eustace. I hope he managed to eat well himself, too.

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1 hour ago, Timothy M. said:

Hmm, I guess Toby is OK, since he apologized. And Eric did well with the rake and making supper for Eustace. I hope he managed to eat well himself, too.

Toby’s not a bad sort, just completely ignorant of what’s going on in Eric’s mind. Eric is showing himself to be a lot more resourceful than he has given himself credit for. And yes, I think he ate well. Thanks for your reading and comments.

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@chris191070Toby seems okay with Eric. He's just utterly unaware of Eric's history, but then again, why should he know? Eric is unlikely to open up - that would be would be very risky.

Edited by Parker Owens
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