Jake and Emma sat on the jetty with a bottle of Chardonnay between them. Their feet dangling in the water. The beauty of the silence made their hearts peaceful.
The night was so brightly lit with stars that they had made their way from the main building with no flashlight.
'Do you remember the first time we set foot here on the farm?' Emma asked. 'We were glared at by the agent when we insisted on walking down to the river. There were no roads so we had to hike through the shrubs and forest for many kilometres and the agent was not amused when the sun peaked so he took his hanky and knotted the four corners so he could cover his bald head.'
'That I remember clearly,' Jake poured the wine and lifted his glass. 'Let's clink to the wonderful adventure we have had on this piece of heaven.'
'But how we laughed about the first herd of cattle we bought.' Jake laughs as he continues. 'Two forty year old city kids who had suddenly become farmers. We had to tend to our cattle, get them branded and injected and we did not have a clue what we were doing. We would have been the laughing stock of the neighbourhood had our neighbours seen how we got through that exercise!'
'We did eventually become real farmers. I remember the day I knew we had become real farmers. We had grown sugar graze to make feed for the cattle which we stored under a tarpaulin. When we opened the feed, you could smell how the feed had fermented. As I turned, all I could see was cows coming from all directions - they had also smelt it and could not wait to get to it. Those huge bodies crowding us, wanting to feed. That was what it felt like to be a real farmer.'
Emma lifted her glass. 'I'll clink to that. I will always remember the excitement when we decided to set up a summer camp for the school children. The planning of the buildings and the obstacle courses. Equipping the rooms, kitchen and hall. Damming the water so that we could use that area for boat paddling and then there was the zip line that we ourselves tested time and time again. We couldn't get enough of it. I couldn't wait for the first set of kids to come and enjoy this dream of ours.'
'And keep us busy! For sure they did! Busy twenty four seven from the time the busses stopped and loaded one hundred and twenty kids off. Feeding, cleaning the scrapes and scratches, seeing that the older ones didn't go off into the woods to smoke the dope they had hidden in their bags' Emma laughed. 'Then there were those that would not leave us alone for a minute - that was when I could have done with some of that dope.' she giggled.
'I'll clink to that. It was one of our huge successes in life. Over a period of twenty years we saw thousands of happy faces. Lives changed just because we passed on a bit of love. The smile on a kid's face when he experienced the bush for the first time. The friendships that were formed as we enjoyed ever moment. Even though it was hard work it was a really rewarding time of our lives.'
Jake rolled onto his back and looked up at the night sky. Do you see Sirius up there?" he asked.
'Yip!' Emma responded. 'And did you know it is also called the Dog Star because it is part of the constellation Canis Major.
'Actually Madame I did. I think we have been together too long. We know the same thing and think the same thing all the time!'
They both lay on their backs now and laughed, just enjoying this beautiful night.
Emma sat up and took a sip of her wine. 'How sad for this to come to an end in such a nasty way. I don't really want to talk about it and remember that night but that changed everything in our lives.'
'I can still remember the storm and the confusion when the electricity went out. When the killers came in so unexpectedly and caused such havoc and mayhem. Who would ever have thought that this could have happened to us. You, Jake, were left for dead and I was kidnapped and driven to a remote place about two hundred kilometres away, to be dumped in the veld. Who does such horrendous things to people for no other reason than political gain.
'It makes me angry to think that these farm attacks have increased at such an alarming rate and that our government turns a blind eye to this matter. So many lives have been devastated and so many farm businesses have been ruined by these thugs that scamper around in the night.'
'Then to make matters even worse is when the authorities stepped in and lay claim to our farm under the guise of Land Expropriation.' Emma was getting really agitated now. 'I did not want to remind us of such travesty on our last night here on the farm. I'm sorry Jake. When we leave here we will leave all the sadness and ugliness behind and just take the good with us. There has been more good than bad on this land.'
'Yes, what a sad period in our lives that was,' Jake said as he sat closer to Emma and put his arm around her. 'But tomorrow we will leave here and be ready for new adventures. Who knows what wonderful times lay in wait for us. We are strong and healthy and have the rest of our lives to look forward to.'
Jake hugged Emma. 'Drink up girl, tomorrow is a new day!'
Jake helped Emma up and they just stood for a moment looking out over the water.
Hand in hand they made their was past the numerous chalets that used to house the school children and on up to the hall.
Tonight everything was quiet. No laughter from the dining tables. No children singing round the camp fire.
They climbed the stairs to the patio and turned to have one more look at the flowing river and the silent bush that was lit by the moon and the stars. It seemed magical to them.
Jake looked up. 'Sirius is still with us,' he said to Emma.
She just nodded. They turned and walked into their home to spend one last night on their bit of heaven before setting off on the next chapter of their lives.
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Very sweet and reminiscent story. Similar to what Peter said, I definitely think it would’ve been even better if more focus had been on the kidnap or the Land Extrapolation. Sometimes flashbacks can be employed in this, where you really get into the character’s head and recount the incidents exactly as they happened, which brings the past exciting action/conflict into the present. Getting into a character’s head helps us get into their heads and thus develop more feelings for them. That’s just what I think would’ve made it even better. Other...
Thanks. I have been going back and looking at all the comments to see where I can improve. I think it was good for me to go back a few months to see if I was working on my characters. I can still improve.
That was a nice story recounting the lives of Jack and Emma. I think it could have been even stronger if you focused primarily on the kidnap or the ‘Land Expropriation’ element as these would provide great sources of conflict for a story and you clearly have a lot of knowledge in this area. It was well written and thought provoking though. I look forward to reading your next story!
Thank you for your input. I was writing a bit close to home and then steered away from the bad.