The story so far… Old Wives’ Tale
James Carson huddled with Pappy for a long time after the travelers left the bus. His contempt for Charles was palpable. Amelia was grateful for James’ careful attention to her bag, and Olivia’s welcoming embrace.
From Pappy’s bus, James unloaded their belongings. He let Amelia hold her duffle in her lap on the drive out to their farm, nestled between him and Olivia in the cab. Charles had to ride in the truck bed with his bag.
The first night with the Carsons, Amelia slept in a bed by herself. Charles had to bunk in the barn with the rest of the workmen. At first Amelia worried she wouldn’t be able to mix the necessary tinctures into Charles’ food and drink, but when Olivia said she’d need her to help prepare the construction crew’s meals, Amelia saw her chance.
The Carson children were soon enamored of Amelia, and she fell in-love with them, and their loving parents. Charles was an outsider with the construction crew. He was ill-tempered and quick to pick a fight. The other men only put up with him because of Amelia.
Before long, it felt like Amelia had always been a part of the Carson family. It became a routine part of her day to sit with the three older children and read to them in the afternoon while the younger children had their naps. The perennial favorite was the Wizard of Oz. The children would squeal with excitement when Amelia created new voices for each character, especially the Wicked Witch and Dorothy.
It was during one of these afternoons spent adventuring in the Emerald City, that Amelia first met Lester Branch.
Amelia and the children were huddled together on the porch swing, deep in the Tin Man’s forest when Lester rode up on a pale Champagne Morgan. She had never seen such an unusual horse, and lost her place in the story. The children’s shouts brought Olivia out to the porch.
Wiping her hands on her apron, coated in flour and wisps of hair escaping from her bun, Olivia welcomed the youngest of the Branch boys.
Lester was there to talk with James about one of his Holstein bulls. Seeing Amelia, he completely forgot why his father sent him to the Carson farm, and was content to simply sit with a pretty girl on the swing.
Olivia herded her children inside and brought Amelia and Lester glasses of sweet, iced tea. She wasn’t opposed to introducing the young woman to a decent young man. Pastor Bell told her that Amelia had biblical grounds for a divorce, especially since Charles and Amelia didn’t have any living children.
The Branch Boys were a rough bunch, but Lester was a good man. Less rowdy than his brothers, he was destined for better things than a hard life on his father’s farm.
Amelia was shy and didn’t know what to say to this handsome young man. A man who wasn’t drunk or angry, who smiled and told her she was pretty.
They talked about her work with the Carsons, about the children and about the Carson’s new home being built on the hill top at the back of the pasture. Lester asked Amelia about the book she was reading to the children. She showed him the cover, and the four characters making their way down the Yellow Brick Road.
“Sometimes I feel like the Tin Man,” Amelia said. “It’s like there is a hole in my chest where my heart should be.”
She blushed at the boldness of her confession.
“I find that hard to believe,” Lester said, staring into her emerald green eyes. “I can’t imagine you as a Tin Woman. I bet there is a heart in there.”
“I’m afraid it’s buried too deep, if there is,” she said, barely a whisper.
“Then maybe we’ll have to take a trip to see the Wizard.” Lester smiled, pointing toward his Morgan. “I’ve already got a horse of a different color.”