Winter is a drag...
by Erin Halfelven
Chapter 6 -- All Souls
I finally salvaged my makeup and finished getting dressed. I added some bangles to my wrists and changed the pearls for a strand of hippie beads. I headed for the kitchen but Aaron wasn’t there and I caught sight of him on the rear deck.
He stood there, staring at the skeletal remains of the apple tree behind our half of the duplex. The poor thing had yet to bounce back from getting hit by lightning two days after Halloween last fall. All Souls Day when the unrighteous dead are allowed to walk the Earth, followed by a terrible winter. I shivered. A false spring and a late March snowstorm seemed to have finished the poor apple tree for good.
April in Iowa can be very dramatic or numbingly boring. This had been a week for drama, even in the weather. A wind blew in from the prairie, ruffling Aaron’s brown hair and letting the sun break through grim grey clouds to add golden highlights. I caught my breath seeing how handsome he looked, like Brad Pitt cast against type in a suburban comedy.
I went to the laundry room door and opened it a crack. “Aren’t you freezing out there?” I asked.
“It’s going to rain,” he said, having to shout over the snap and whistle of the wind.
“Again,” I finished for him. It had already rained five times this week. “Come inside if you want to talk, I’m not going out there to get cold and possibly wet.”
He nodded, grinning, and came back in past me. As he squeezed by, he put a hand on my ass and gave that a little squeeze, too. “I wonder if they have weather like this in California?” he asked, looking directly into my eyes from not five inches away.
“I....” I had no idea what I had intended to say. The wind tugged at the door, trying to pull it further open or pull me out into the cold and wet. I yanked it closed and decided to glare at Aaron.
He kissed me on the nose. “You’re cute when you pretend to get angry at me,” he said.
He smiled. “I can always tell when you’re faking being annoyed. Your mouth frowns but your eyes just look confused.”
We were still less than a foot apart, my breast enhancers almost touching his chest. I felt confused, all right.
“You’re a pod person, aren’t you?” I finally gasped. “What have you done with my roommate?”
He laughed, taking me by the wrists and pulling me into the kitchen. “You know I love you when you get all dressed up, Willie,” he said.
I pulled away, he let me and I took refuge by the warmth of the oven. “What’s got into you, Aaron?” I asked.
He waggled his eyebrows at me. “I’ve been trying to get up the nerve....” He stopped himself, shook his head and said, “Start over. They had one condition about me taking the job in California.”
“Huh?” I said. It sounded stupid and I felt stupid.
“They like to hire married men. Rancho Domingo is out in the middle of nowhere, really. An hour and a half from L.A. and the next nearest big town is Bakersfield. Not exactly the bright lights. They think bachelors would be unstable. So, I told them I intended to get married soon.”
I snorted. “Do they know where you live now? Do they think Elk City, Iowa is some kind of metropolis? Didn’t you say they were Japanese?”
He shook his head and grinned. “Chinese. But the State College is practically next door here. Rancho Domingo doesn’t even have a Burger King.”
Aaron interrupted. “So I thought, I need a bride, a wife. Who do I know who would be willing to live with me and move to California?” He grinned.
I honestly didn’t make the connection until he dropped to one knee.
“Willie, say you’ll marry me?” he said.
Now I knew how the apple tree felt on All Souls Day.
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