This year she had picked autumn to visit her grandparents... Not too cold... not too hot... not too rainy... she hoped, fingers crossed. The sun was setting as the taxi made its way up the long driveway to the farmhouse. The corn stalks were brown and the wheat field swayed in the early evening sunset breeze. The air smelled fresh and clean. Her nose made its way to the open window of the taxi. Was she... smiling????
Barbara WAS smiling. So far this had been a GREAT trip. She wished though that she had asked for Mikes' phone number. Well... if he REALLY wanted to find her he could. They talked about so much over the last 2 days that they practically knew each other’s life story. At least she knew he lived around her grandparents... SOMEWHERE!
The taxi stopped at the front door of Barbara's grandparents. They came rushing out the door as the driver went fetch her luggage from the trunk. Each time she visited them they seemed a little older. It is hard to watch loved ones widdle away before your very eyes. Her grandpa walked a little slower with his cane as Grandma helps him down the steps. She never seemed to age. Barbara got out of the taxi and gave them both a hug and kiss. Now that she saw grandma up close, there are a few more wrinkles she had not noticed before. But she was still as cheery as ever. She always knows how to make Barbara smile.
"Barbara dear... It is sooo nice to see you. You've lost some more weight I see. Soon you will be all skin and bones," she said smiling. Barbara had NOT lost weight... Grandma just liked to say she did. It was a little game they played each visit. And grandpa... lecturing her how she should come visit more. She could visit every day and it would not be enough for him. Barbara knew he meant well.
Barbara paid the taxi driver and the three made our way to the porch. She stood at the bottom of the step to make sure the taxi turned around ok. She couldn't help but take in the scenery. This WAS a good time of the year for a visit. The colors are vibrant and the smells of autumn are in the air. She took in a big gulp of the autumn air.
"Don't smell anything like THAT in the city... Now do ya?" Grandpa had caught her.
"No grandpa I sure don't." She sneezed as a whiff of cow manure caught her nose. "Definitely not." She coughed back and laughed. Oh yes... She had forgotten for a moment. "I DO hate the country."
She grumbled a bit as they took her luggage into the house. Her room was just as it was the last visit. Nothing changed, nothing new. This visit she had promised she would stay longer. Barbara told her boss that her grandparents were old and she wasn't sure how much longer she would have with them and he gave her a month leave of absence. Work was slow this time of year and she knew the holidays would be a lot busier so she was thankful for the rest. She just hoped it would be a better trip than the last time. A week of mud was not fun. At least she didn't have to worry about no heat... Grandpa assured her that the furnace WAS working this year. And she really didn't have to worry about 90 degree weather either. A little nip of coolness blew against her neck and she shivered.
Barbara's grandparents left her to finish her unpacking. Her grandma was just putting the finishing touches on dinner. "HOW do grandmothers seem to know when you are hungry I'll never know," she thought to herself. Her tummy rumbled. She could smell the fried chicken coming up from the kitchen.
As she made her way down the stairs to the kitchen other smells caressed her nose. Broccoli... Sweet Potatoes... even the french dressing she liked on her salad. The most powerful smell of all was the Apple Pie sitting on the table. Her mouth watered as she sat down. Her grandma smiled. Grandpa sat at the head of the table and started carving the chicken. He knew Barbara liked the leg the best, so he gave her the first piece.
The conversation at dinner was pleasant as farm talk could go. Barbara made sure she paid attention to what grandpa said. But her mind DID wander back to Mike and the train trip now and then.
"Hush grandpa... can't you see you are boring the girl," Grandma said? "Tell us about your trip here my dear." She smiled at Barbara as if she knew Barbara had something to tell them.
Barbara told them of her train trip there. She told them about the mix up of compartments and of Mike and how gentlemanly he was. Barbara could feel herself blush. She finished her story with asking them if they knew Mike and his family. They said they knew several Mikes but weren't sure if any of them were the right Mike.
"Maybe he will be at the dance tonight," her grandmother mentioned. "Your grandfather and I will be going. We were hoping you would join us?"
A dance??? More country folk. Well at least there was a chance that Mike would be there. She nodded to them that she would go and they finished their dinner with stories of her life in the big city.
Barbara looked at her things hanging in the closet. She had not thought to bring a dress. And of course no good shoes. She couldn't go to the dance in grungy jeans and her old tennies. Her grandma entered the room just as she was about to change her mind about going to the dance.
"I simply didn't pack anything to wear to a party, Grandma," she said. "I can't go to the party in these ratty old things. I'm sorry."
"Nonsense... I have a nice dress you can wear and I'm sure I have a nice pair of flats that will fit you." Grandma hurried off to grab the items. Barbara fixed her hair up into a ponytail and added a bit of blush and lipstick. Simple enough for this country party. Her grandmother returned with a simple shift dress and some plain black flats. They fit perfectly. She looked at herself in the mirror. NOW... she was plain ole simple country folk too! She giggled and made her way out to the front porch.
A nice young man picked Barbara and her grandparents up a few moments later driving an old dusty truck. There were a few people in the back of the truck bed and Barbara and her grandparents hopped on to join them. Two men helped Grandpa and Grandma introduced Barbara to the others.
It was a dusty rickety old ride to the party. Barbara could feel the grit in her teeth. First thing she was going to do when she got to the party was grab a drink... a stiff one! They made it to the party in one piece and she dusted herself off as she followed the others to the door of the barn. Yes... a barn. Of course. She could hear the familiar sounds of "square dance music" coming from inside. This was gonna be a good ole fashioned hoe down... she knew it. She sighed and made her way inside with her grandparents.
Immediately her grandparents were swamped with people waving and saying hello. Barbara was flooded with people saying their names and shaking their hands. It was all a blur... until... There he was... she spotted him over in the corner standing with some men. Mike…..