Twice in a Blue Moon

Page 87

There’s a no trespassing sign posted at the bottom of the long road, so the taxi stops near a white wooden gate.

“There were a bunch of reporters here last week,” the driver says, waiting while I run my card. “Whole road was blocked. Couldn’t even get up this way.”

I look up past the fence. Trees hide the house and most of the property. “Can you wait down here in case he isn’t home?”

He shakes his head. “That’s a ten-minute walk. I can give you a number to call if you need another ride, but it’s too long to just wait.”

Because Eden, Vermont, is bursting at the seams with cab fares, waiting for rides? I give him a tight smile and sign my receipt. “Thanks anyway.”

He gives me a questioning look in the rearview mirror. “Why didn’t you just call the house?”

“Don’t have the number,” I lie. That’s not exactly true. Sam had to change his number when the news broke, but the studio has it. I’m sure Marco does as well. It’s just that this is something I needed to do in person. I’m not a writer like Sam is; I couldn’t put what I want to say in an email or a text message. But I know how to love him in person. I don’t think I needed to know Roberta and Luther’s story in order to know that love like that can exist, but if it hadn’t been for Ellen, I’d never have figured it out.

I climb out of the car and reach for my bag. “Thanks.”

The driver waves in reply and pulls away, and I’m left staring down the long dirt road, framed by white split-rail fences on either side. I step forward, my bag heavy on my shoulder, the road damp beneath my feet.

It’s uncanny, really. Although Milkweed ostensibly takes place in Iowa, the set was designed to look like Luther and Roberta’s farm. It was beautiful, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the real thing. Staring down the lane is a little like looking in a fun house mirror: the pieces are all where they should be, but everything here seems at once bigger, smaller, brighter, older. The apple orchard on Ruby Farm was too big; this one is maybe only two dozen trees. The replica barn was too small and weathered; in reality, the barn here is massive and painted a fresh, brilliant red.

Behind me, hills stretch as far as you can see, and the grass is dotted with grazing cattle and sheep.

My stomach twists a little tighter with every step. What if he isn’t here? What if he isn’t happy to see me? What if he is? I haven’t exactly worked out what I need to tell him, how to take the feelings inside me and turn them into words. But I want to take back control of this story. I don’t want Dad or Sam leading the way on this. Not even Marco. I want to be the one to tell the world the truth, but it’s terrifying to imagine doing that: putting my feelings out in the world for everyone to read. It’s occurred to me more than once lately that I’ve always been better at living someone else’s life than living my own. But here I am, walking down this long road the same way Luther did all those times, all those years ago.

As the road curves, the beautiful two-story farmhouse stands proudly in the distance. A wide porch wraps around the yellow building, and I half expect to see Ellen Meyer fixing her washing machine on the back lawn.

My heart knocks against my chest as I near the house and my feet crunch over the dirt road. The November evening is cold—it’s probably forty degrees out—and the sun has just dipped below the tree line, turning the sky a flirtatious cornflower blue. I can barely make out two black rocking chairs looking out over the orchard. Did Roberta and Luther ever sit outside there together, talking, rocking, making each other laugh?

A small dog bounds off the porch as I approach. He barks, at first in warning and then happily as, I guess, I am determined to not be threatening. I drop my bag and kneel, holding out a hand to see if he’ll come closer.

The screen door squeaks open and then falls closed again with an echoing slap.

“Rick!” a deep voice calls, and when I look up I see Sam moving down the steps. I straighten, pushing my knit cap higher up on my forehead, and he stops cold in his tracks.

He’s wearing worn jeans and old brown boots. The sleeves of his blue flannel are rolled up his forearms, and a dark beanie is covering his head. My eyes never tire of looking at him.

“Tate?” he asks, squinting as if I might be some kind of a mirage.

I don’t know what the right thing to say is right now, but the words that come out first—“Your dog’s name is Rick?”—are probably not it.

He tilts his head, reaching up to scratch his jaw. “Yeah. Rick Deckard.” He doesn’t add more; he just stares like he’s not sure what to do with me.

“From Bladerunner? That is fucking delightful.”

There’s no warning when he jogs the few steps to reach me and scoops me up into his arms. He’s trembling, arms wrapped tightly around my waist as he buries his face in my neck. “Oh my God. You’re here.”

I let myself breathe him in, and my arms find their way around his neck. “Hey.”

He walks in a small circle, around and around, and then presses his mouth to my neck before setting me down. But he doesn’t back away; I have to tilt my chin to look up at him.

We stare at each other for a good ten seconds, just taking it all in. “I got back from lunch with my dad,” I say finally, “and you’d already left the farm.”

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