Past Forward Volume 1
seemed like no time, Willow poured
soap into molds, cleaned out the pans, and cleared the workspace.
Sweat trickled down her temples and left streaks on her cheeks that
looked deceptively like tears. While he dried the pots and the
utensils, Chad asked when she’d cut bars and how long it would be
before the soap was safe to use.
    Once the cleanup was complete, and the molds
returned to the pantry, Willow took Chad on a tour of her work,
handing him a list of what she did in the mornings and evenings.
Othello trotted beside them, as though aware that something was
amiss. “Look at him! He’s getting so clingy.”
    “Animals don’t handle loss with the
detachment that we assume.” Chad hoped his voice didn’t betray his
concerns. She’d been so lost the previous week, and now she acted
as though everything was back to normal in her life.
    “Ok, so you have to check the hen house. We
had to kill the rooster, so it’s important to get the eggs. I let
the chickens out when I feed them in the morning and then…”
    All around the little farmyard Willow
chattered about how and what to feed the pig, where to store the
milk pail, reminding him half a dozen times to scald the pail when
he was done scrubbing it. “Othello gets extra eggs, leftover meat,
and if you get desperate, there are packages of frozen organ meats
in the freezer marked with his name on them.”
    “No dog food?”
    Her laughter rang out merrily. “Where would
we get dog food?”
    “Where do you get chicken feed?”
    “The feed store in Brant’s Corners delivers
it to the barn every three months.”
    “They’d have brought dog food too—”
    Willow shrugged. “Then what would we do with
our leftovers and organ meats?”
    After the grand tour, they stood at the
pasture gate and watched as the cow munched on grass and
occasionally stared wide-eyed at the onlookers. “She’s a big
one.”
    Nodding, Willow smiled. “She’s a
Limousin—longer than a dairy cow. Mother said something about them
having an extra rib, but I think she was joking. I need to look
that up someday.”
    “Do you always buy these?”
    “No. We’ve had a few Belgian Blues, but we
think these have better meat.”
    The pastures were huge. As she pointed out
each section of their land, he noticed a trough in each one. “Which
one will you use for your sheep?”
    “All of them. I’ll rotate the sheep behind
the cow.”
    “When are sheep available? I mean, it’s not
like puppies or anything, is it? Aren’t sheep born in spring?”
    Laughing at his curiosity, Willow glanced at
her watch and slowly returned to the house. “Well, lambing happens
in fall or spring, I think, but most spring lambs won’t be weaned
until June some time if they’re born in April.”
    “So are you going to get one?”
    She reached for the screen door, turned, and
glanced back down at him. Her hair whipped around her face in the
summer breeze, giving her a languid air that belied her industry
and strength. “Why are you so fixated on the lambs?”
    “You want to spin. I think you should have
lambs for spinning.”
    “Um, I think I’d have some pretty sick lambs
on my hands,” she chuckled as she crossed the kitchen and hurried
up the stairs. “I’ll be right back. I need to take a quick shower
and get ready for the bus.”
    Assuming he was in for an hour of primping,
Chad checked his watch nervously. Three-thirty. The bus left daily
at four-thirty sharp. If she didn’t get a move on, she’d miss the
bus, and he’d be stuck driving her all the way to Rockland.
    “Maybe I should call and see if anyone is
available to drive her,” he muttered to himself.
    The water stopped above him. Was she taking
a bath? He tried to focus on anything but his watch. The strange
counter and cupboard on one side of the large eat-in kitchen caught
his eye. He’d stood there that first day as she frantically tried
to find enough drink ware for tea. The lone teacup sat alone on the
middle shelf of a

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