5: Temperature's Rising
39: Wherever He Would Go








5: Temperature's Rising
Prompt: Heat

Buck gripped the porch railing, both arms splayed out in front of him supporting his weight, as he tried desperately to slow his heart and breathing. He was bent over at the waist; his head nearly touched the wood banister. He was vaguely aware of voices coming from the house behind him.

Slowly pushing himself upright, he glanced at the front door. That door. How many times over the last few years had he walked through that same door without knocking. He’d done that very thing just a minute earlier. Sighing, he leaned against the post, crossed his arms over his chest, and stared out over the yard, thinking of what had happened.

*~*~*~*~*

Buck rode into the yard, looking around. It was so peaceful, much more so than when the Express had been there. He maneuvered his horse towards the barn but the animal stopped near a small pile of hay and happily began munching.

“Well then we’ll stop here.” Buck laughed as he swung his leg over the horse’s rear and jumped to the ground. Reaching into his saddlebag, he withdrew some mail, and grabbed a small bag that was hanging from his saddle. Kid was working late in town and had asked Buck to stop by, dropping off the mail and some small supplies. It was on his way home, so Buck was happy to do it.

As he walked towards the house, a familiar aroma greeted his nose, the smell of fresh baked bread. “Mmmm,” he murmured. “Lou must be baking.” He smiled at the memories the smell elicited. Lou was baking as Rachel had before her and Emma before her. He even heard the same humming as he climbed the steps to the porch and chuckled thinking the three women sounded alike.

Opening the door, he called out, “Hey Lou!” He strolled into the kitchen and, though there was bread baking, his nose hadn’t lied, the person doing the humming – well, it wasn’t Lou. His ears had been the liars.

Walking around the table, he saw a woman bathing in a tub. A beautiful woman, her raven locks piled up on her head, a few stray curls hanging down around her neck. Some of the strands were stuck to her moist skin. She sat, flushed from the heat, staring wide-eyed at Buck. Her large green eyes never left his brown ones.

Startled, Buck stood like an ill-mannered clod staring back, watching a drop of sweat or water, (he didn’t know which and he really didn’t care), slowly trace a path down her rosy cheek, over her chin, and down her long, slender neck. The blush covered the parts of her he could see and, for an instant, he wondered how far down the blush traveled. But only for an instant because her soft gasp brought him back to reality.  But Buck couldn't move.  His feet were stuck to the spot.

“Uhh,” she softly uttered once more. Buck blinked a couple of times and shook his head.

“Uh, um, sor, wha, uh,” Buck stammered. He dropped the bag and the mail on the table and after some more mumbling, he finally excused himself with a stuttered apology.

*~*~*~*~*

Now, as he stood on the porch remembering, whatever he’d said probably sounded like a mixture of English, Kiowa, and some interesting grunts. The voices from inside were a little clearer and there was a significant amount of giggling, much to Buck’s embarrassment. He definitely recognized Lou’s voice and quickly walked down the steps, hurrying to his horse. He wasn’t ready to face Lou or, worse, meet the raven-haired young lady.

Pulling himself up into the saddle, all he could think of was putting some distance between him and the bathing beauty. As he rode past the house, he saw someone peek out from behind the curtain. It wasn’t Lou, of that he was certain because the person watching him had very green eyes. Without thinking, he nodded towards his audience. The curtain fluttered closed and Buck’s lip curled up into a mischievous grin.

Who was she and what was she doing in that kitchen taking a bath?

39: Wherever He Would Go
Prompt: Word List: tombstone, child's toy, mess, harmonica and covered wagon

He looked around at what was once his home. The bad men had done a fine job of tearing the place apart. He walked through the *mess*, finding his Pa’s *harmonica * slightly covered by Ma’s apron. Picking it up, he saw the indentation of a boot heel or, maybe, a horse’s hoof. He knew now he’d never learn to play like Pa.

Kneeling, he silently sorted through the debris. There must be something he could take, something solid he could carry with him to remember his family. He saw the wooden horse Pa had made for Sissy. A simple *child’s toy*. His stomach churned with all he was feeling.

Mr. Riley, the neighbor that had come across the devastation and contacted the authorities, caught his attention. It was time to go. The sheriff and his men had just left because there really wasn’t anything they could do. He couldn’t tell them anything but he knew they thought he just wouldn’t.

He stood, looking around again, and realized there wasn’t anything he wanted. What he wanted was gone.

He dropped the instrument and walked over to the *covered wagon * where Mrs. Riley waited. He didn’t know where they’d take him since he knew they couldn’t, or perhaps wouldn’t, keep him.

He turned for one last look around. His eyes were drawn to the graves. The fresh mound of dirt and the rock pile, passing for *a tombstone*, were all that marked where his Pa, Ma and sister laid. He pulled himself up into the back of the wagon and Mr. Riley flipped the reigns, starting the wagon moving.

Wherever he would go he knew - his life would never be the same.

*~*~*~*~*

He looked around at what was once his home. The white men had done a fine job of tearing the village apart. He walked through the *mess*, passing the bodies of the tribe. Women, children and the elders, all gone. He shouldn’t have left.

As he continued to walk through the carnage, he saw a *child’s toy*, a ball made of buffalo hide. Picking it up, he fought the tears. He had to find her. He needed to, no matter what. Dropping the ball, he forced himself on.

Looking around, he saw the other men watching him. He knew they thought he’d brought this evil to them. Maybe he had. After all, it was in his blood. He quickly looked down, continuing his search.

He remembered how, just a few days earlier, she’d gone with him to the special spot by the creek. But, as they'd cleared the slope, they’d spotted a *covered wagon* camping in their place. The white men were coming and wouldn’t be stopped.

In his search for her, he stumbled upon his mother’s body. He fell to his knees and cradled her head. The tears he fought, fell. He leaned over and kissed her forehead. As he did, he saw something shiny. It was a white man’s mouth instrument. A *harmonica*, he remembered. He felt the anger smolder inside, like the fires that had engulfed his home.

He knew the hunters had taken her. She was gone so he knew what he had to do. He had to leave. His only connections were gone. There was his brother, but he had many responsibilities to shoulder, and worrying about his half-breed, younger brother shouldn’t be one of them.

Placing another kiss on his mother’s forehead, he rose. As he surveyed the wreckage, he saw the others collecting the bodies to prepare for the pyre. White men didn’t understand their ways. They buried people in plots of land and marked the graves. These people didn’t need *a tombstone* to mark their graves. The land was their marker. The land would remember this travesty for all time.

He wiped his eyes and headed toward his horse. He would leave now, this minute. He knew no one would try to stop him. As he walked, the images from his life here flashed across his mind. Though most were difficult, there were good times. His mother, his brother and her. These were no more.

As he mounted his horse, he glanced around the village one last time. He didn’t know where he was going but that it was time to find out about the other half of him. The white half. He turned the horse and kicked him into a gallop.

Wherever he would go he knew - his life would never be the same.







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