August 30

The Quiet Farm (Part 3)

 

[…continued from August 29 entry…]

 

Lara recognized the young woman’s face, because it was her own.

Not exactly her own…more like:  how she’d looked at eighteen years old, before caring for the farm and her aging father had worn deep furrows into her brow and creases around her eyes, before the gray had set in and she tied her hair back instead of bothering to brush it.

Younger eyes stared up at her, pleading.  “Please don’t hurt me,” the stranger had said earlier.

How could she?  It would be like hurting herself.  Strawberry blonde hair framed the girl’s innocent face, catching light even in this dark corner of a darkened house.  “Why, you’re beautiful,” Lara blurted out, then felt immediately embarrassed, as if she’d complimented her own reflection.

Then her concentration shifted, almost as if a spell had broken, and she recalled the owners of the house.  “The Headleys.  Do you know what’s happened to them?”

The young woman, beginning to trust Lara now, unfolded from her crouched position and sat up straight.  “I don’t remember,” she said.  “I don’t remember anything.”  She stretched as if waking from a long nap — arched her back, lifted her arms and ran fingers through her loose hair.

Lara recalled the bread and cheese and jam that she’d brought to barter with Arthur Headley in exchange for veterinary advice.  She’d set the basket inside the door when she stepped inside, and ran back to get it now.  Maybe with food the stranger could collect her senses and remember where the house’s owners had gone.  Or, at least remember her own name.

When Lara came back, the young girl was standing on unsteady feet.  She declined the offered food, but she looked so lovely and so weak.

Lara decided to take the girl back to her farm.  In time, she was certain the nervous girl would learn to trust her, and would open up about whatever trauma she’d experienced in the Headley home.

If Lara remembered the warnings within her father’s stories, the admonition never to invite strange entities onto your property, she dismissed such notions before they took hold.

 

[…continued tomorrow…]