Authors: Kate Kessler
Mon 4th June 2012
Alone in her bedroom, Emily swayed her hips from side to side, dancing to the music that blared into her ears from the IPod, stuffed loosely in the back pocket of her jeans. “Have a drink on la la” Emily laughed as she sang loudly “Have a drink la la.”
When suddenly she heard the arguing from outside drift up the stairs and mix with the music in her ears. “What the Hell” She jerked the earplugs out, as her IPod fell to the floor and she reached to pull back the curtains. “Oh shit not again” she said as her nerves stiffened her body, at the sight of her Dad and the neighbor Andy Johnson engaged in a heated argument, at the mailbox by the road. Her eyes glued to the guns holstered at their sides, set the alarms of danger off in her head. She headed down the stairs, skipping steps as she ran. As she reached the bottom step, her mom shouted “Emily don't you go out there. Your Dad and Andy are arguing again.”
“I heard them Mom” Emily shouted as she pushed past her, running toward the door. The arguing grew louder, roaring in her ears, as she twisted the door knob and stepped out onto the porch. Her adrenaline was pumping as she watched her brothers Josh and John run ahead of her towards the road. Just as Billy and Ed Johnson pulled up and jumped out of Billy’s car pulling their shirts over their heads then angrily tossing them on the ground. This is going to turn into an all-out brawl, just like the old days, she thought and ran quickly toward them. Then the fear gripped her, freezing her feet to the ground where she stood as she watched her brother Josh pull a gun out of the front of his pants and point it at Billy Johnson. She didn’t even know it was her screaming the words at first, “No, no, no.” The words flooded out of her mouth as she ran swiftly toward Josh, grasping his arm as the shot rang through the air, missing its target. Silence filled the air around them, as if their voices had been lost in the heat of the moment. Stunned at her own actions, Emily stood speechless, and unable to move staring at the gun laying at her feet. The angry voice of her Dad bringing her back to reality, she looked up toward him.
“Emily, boys go in the house now, and let Andy and me handle this.”
She could see Billy standing at the front of his car, the smile spread across his face, surprised her, but she knew it was meant for her, then he winked at her. She almost smiled back, but wiped the smile off her face quickly as Josh bend to pick up the gun, then grabbed her by the arm, jerking her toward the house. She heard Andy Johnson shout.
“Get in the car boys, go home.” His voice also sounded angry.
Emily and her brothers stood on the porch as the Johnson boys pulled away, making a quick U-turn in the road, the dust from the road filled the air around them causing her to cough as she waved the dust away.
“What was that all about?” She could hear the anger in Josh’s voice as he ask her, almost shouting.
“I didn’t want you to kill anyone Josh.” She answered him.
“That’s not what I’m talking about Emily, and besides I wasn’t going to kill him, you over reacted. That was stupid of you.” She knew he was right, that was stupid of her, but she had done stupid things before. “What are you talking about then?” She ask and set down in the porch swing, biting her nails as she continue to watch her Dad and Andy Johnson out by the road.
“That stupid wink Billy Johnson, gave you” Josh spit off the side of the porch and ask.
“Hell I don’t know Josh.” She laughed “Why don’t you ask him.”
I should be used to this by now she thought as she continued to move the swing back and forth with her feet. The feud between the two families had been going on since shortly after receiving the land grants from the Revolutionary War. Then it got even worst, escalating into an all-out battle after her great grandpa’s, great grandpa, or something like that, had joined the Union army. While the Johnson family had joined the Confederate side. Emily’s family had hidden Union Soldiers in a cave on their land and the Johnsons had captured one of her ancestral uncles then decapitated him, after failing to get him to give up the location of the cave. It happened on this very land. At least that’s how the story goes. The feud had died down at times over the years, her grandpa and old man Johnson had actually gotten along when they were drinking, but lately, over the past several years, there had been a lot of arguing between the families. Her brothers and the Johnson boys were always arguing at the school bus stop which often carried over to the ride to school. Emily always treasured a morning on that old school bus, when no one spoke, or even looked at the other, which was a very rare occasion.
As Jack Canton turned to walk toward the house, Emily and her brothers quickly ran inside, and sit down in the living room, to wait. She knew her Dad was angry, it showed on his face.
Jack soon walked through the front door, it slammed behind him, shaking the window pane next to her head. She thought the window might have shattered and pulled the curtain back to see. Thank God it hadn’t, that would have fueled his anger even more, she thought. Emily could feel the anger stemming off her Dads body, his cheeks red and flushed. She knew she was in trouble.
“The Johnsons dog killed another one of our goats today Judy.” Jack told Emily’s Mom.
“Did he promise to keep the dog away from them, Jack?” Judy asked him.
"Yes, yes he did" her Dad answered, as he set down in his brown, swede recliner. Emily felt his glare towards her, and tried not to look at him.
"Then that should be the end of it, Jack" she patted the top of his head and kissed it. Emily looked at Mom as she watched her kiss the top of his head and thought her Mom was the most beautiful person in the world with her near perfect figure even after having four boys and a girl. She often wondered why her Mom had chosen to live the farm life, when she could have clearly, left Chestnut and done more. Emily had ask her one time, why she had chosen to stay here. Judy laughed answering her with her smile glowing on her face, “Because I love your father and would have followed him to China if he had ask me to go.” Emily smiled, she could see the love between her parents in the way they looked at each other, and knew her mother most likely could never resist her father’s goods looks with his neatly trimmed beard.
Emily stood up from the couch, thinking she would go outside, now that the fighting had ended and hoped to avoid the speech that she knew would be coming, but didn’t get any further than the end of the coffee table, before she heard him, her Dad, his voice stern. “Emily if you plan on taking another step, it better be back toward the couch and not forward.” Emily walked back to the couch and slowly set down, she had known this was coming. “You could have gotten that boy shot Emily, or yourself or someone else, what was you thinking, or was you thinking? I better not ever see or hear of you grabbing a gun like that again. I don’t know what to say to you. Just go on, get out of here.” He threw his arms in the air motioning her away,” I give up,” he added.
Emily walked out the front door and stepped off the porch, then stopped to smell the fragrant scent of the rose bushes that lined along the sides. She knew this wasn’t the end of this argument, she thought as she sucked in the fragrance, no matter what her Dad had said. Many of her relatives over the years had killed each other in both families, over less than a dog and a goat. She laughed at the stupidity of it all. This hadn’t happened in her generation as of yet, but every being in her body screamed at her, the worst would happen someday soon, and she often prayed about it.
She looked up from the roses and watched her brothers walking down the path in front of her, they must have went out the back door she thought, and laughed at the ideal that had come to her.
She stayed back at the porch long enough to let them get to their destination. Then walked through the yard toward the dirt path behind them, she was laughing inside as she walked a ways down the path and stopped at the door of her brothers shine cellar, she leaned her head against the door and listened, to voices behind it, confirming to her, they were inside. She smiled holding back the giggle, that was deep within her throat, she raised her hand and knocked loudly, bang, bang, bang “police” she deepened her voice and shouted. Then quickly took off running down the path laughing as she imagined the look on her brothers faces inside the cellar. She slowed her pace to a walk as she reached the pond, and leaned over touching her hands to her knees to catch her breath. Then walked past the cat tails still laughing and across the dam to the hillside that overlooked her family’s one hundred acre farm.
Emily set down on the deep green grass and gazed out over the pond, enjoying the silence around her. From the hill side she could see across the corn fields, the cattle and horse field’s then clear down to the creek that separated her families land and the Johnsons sixty five acres.
The Johnsons were pig farmers and raised a small garden. Both families had been moonshiners in the day, before the county legalized liquor, even her father had been in his younger days. Her brothers often made some on occasion for their own use. Mr. Johnson still made and sold it, making a very decent profit she had heard. Now, the family illegal business was growing marijuana. Her brothers grew it, as well as the Johnson boys, both accusing each other of stealing their Mary Jane at times. Even though Emily didn’t believe any of it.
From where Emily set she could see the Johnsons little house, it was run down, a stark difference from her home with its clean white color and sun yellow shutters. Mr. Johnson had raised seven boys alone, his wife dying of cancer shortly after Jr had been born. Emily believed all the Johnson boys, or men rather, were very handsome but she would never admit that to her brothers.
As she set looking across the pond, she seen Billy and Ed Johnson suddenly step out their front door. She giggled a little, he is so handsome, she thought. That bad boy look, the look Emily was extremely attracted to, like a fly to sugar. The look all her brothers and her dad had. Muscular, the kind of muscle you get from good old fashion hard work. She smiled as Billy leaned against the banister of the porch and smoothed back his shoulder length, black hair, as it flowed in the wind. There’s just something about Billy she thought as she remembered her desperation from earlier when she saw Josh point a gun at him. “Heading to your pot batch boys” she whispered to herself and smiled, as she watched them jump on the dirt bikes and ride out into the woods.
Emily had studied Billy’s face a thousand times over the years. His dark brown eyes captivated her, and his smile had always made her want to grab her heart and melt into his arms every time she saw him. Her brothers would kill her for even thinking those thoughts.
She had recently accepted Billy’s friends request on Facebook. She would set and stare at his profile picture for hours at a time. She laughed remembering this past school year. They had flirted a few times, her and Billy. Since Emily had been the only one from her family in school this past year, she had elected not to take the bus, borrowing one of the family cars.
It had all started with a smile, sometime toward the middle of the school year. A smile and a hello from Billy, when he was picking up his brother Jr. from school. This went on for a couple of months. They would return smiles, say hello and she had found herself wanting to talk with him.
Then one day, Emily was leaving school and Billy jumped in front of her, not letting her past him, every time she would try to pass he would move over in her way, smiling his very handsome smile. “He knows he's cute" Emily thought.
“Go out with me sometime” he ask, as he reached over and gently touched her hair.
“Oh sure Billy, are you trying to get killed.” She had laughed.
“You want to though, don’t you, go out with me?” he had said as he chewed on a piece of grass that hung out of the corner of his mouth. She smiled as she remembered that day, they had talked for a while, then she left wishing she had said yes. After that talking with Billy for a few minutes had become an almost daily event. He had even given her a rose for her seventeenth birthday. Softening her heart even more.
"Emily" she heard her Brother Joe’s voice calling her, bringing her out of her day dream. "Where are you?" He shouted louder. She quickly jumped up and headed back down the path toward home.
“I’m right here" Emily answered waving her hand in the air toward Joe laughing.
"It’s time for supper" he cupped his hand at his mouth and yelled smiling as he walked toward her. Joe at the age 19, was the brother she spent the most time with and the one she could always count on if she needed anything. Joe threw his arms around her rubbing his fist on her head playfully, as they both laughed. His broad smile spreading across his face, causing his deep brown eyes to sparkle as his brown hair danced in the wind on his shoulders. The same deep brown eyes and brown hair all her brothers had. She smiled, proud of her brother’s good looks, they were all quite the playboy with the girls in town. Joe and her twenty year old brother Josh, seemed to have a new girlfriend every week, playing the field they would tell her and laugh. As Emily and Joe walked down the path toward the house, she could see Josh, heading toward the back woods in the distance, behind the cornfield. He was carrying an old burlap sack and had a shovel, in his hand. "What's Josh doing?" she ask. Joe looked out over the field toward Josh, "I don't know. Let's hurry," He told her, pulling her arm along.