Jim and Sylvia drive out to the farm.
| Chapter One
Jim Roberts,a 38 year-old appliance store manager, who aspires to become a stock market trader on Wall Street, and his sister Sylvia, a 41 year-old bookkeeper, which is the same job she held for the past twenty-two years (since she left high school), were raised on a dairy farm in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Their father, born and raised in the Appalachian mountains; needless to say, had a love for the country lifestyle and farming, but dairy farming in particular. He tried to instill that same love and passion in both his children; however, in Jim, who always had his eyes set on New York, he failed.
“I think,” Jim blurted out in a firm tone, because he didn’t want to be here, “if you’re going to just buy a farm without consulting me– What is that pop used to say?” Jim straightened himself in his seat, he put-on a stone-like seriousness (on his face), and lowered the tone of his voice. ‘My boy, the time for my opinion is before you put your money down. Don’t come to me after you buy a horse and ask me if its lame.’ Jim laughed.
In a child-like voice, Sylvia interrupted, “Remember uncle Leroy? He always said that you’re about as dumb as you are smart; because, you were great at math and money, but horrible at relationships. Furthermore, he said, you couldn’t hold onto a friend if your life depended on it.
“Maybe, I didn’t want you out here to advice me on the purchase, or to access its value, and project its return over the next four quarters. Jim; perhaps, I just asked you to come with me today to be by my side, because its important to me, and no other reason.
“I get the part where you don’t like anything to do with country life or farming.” While avoiding eye contact at this point, Sylvia was yelling; also, she bounced her head a lot whenever she spoke. “But, then you have to understand that these are the very things that are important to me. Unless you have somebody to share things with in life, there is no point to any of it. I wanted you to be by my side today. Is that a crime, Jim?” She kept her eyes fixed on her side of the road; most of that time, she looked out the passenger window while sulking.
Even though the tension between them was thick and heavy, and a wall was going up brick by brick, Jim blurted-out one final comment. “There are things that I am passionate about; in my opinion, they are the things that get me out of bed in the morning. At the same time, most of everything else is nothing more than a chore or a down-right inconvenience.” Sylvia didn’t acknowledge what he said; least of all, that he said anything of importance.
Afterwards, a dreadful silence took over the conversation for most of the remaining drive. Suddenly, she folded her newspaper and maps; she violently threw them on the seat behind her. Eventually, she pulled-out a cigarette, which was very long and slender, it had a gold band around the filter, and lit it. Just like a twelfth century dragon though, the smoke bellowed out of her nostrils and filled the cabin; as a matter of fact, she only did that when she was angry. While she was hoping the drive wouldn’t take much longer; continuously, she was tapping her left knee with her hand. She stared at the passing scenery – but, nothing more. Now, Sylvia had a hard edge to her, her tongue was a razor and that little girl was gone.
Jim always felt the bite whenever he said anything that irritated Sylvia, so he tried to avoid saying the wrong things. More often than not, her Go-To remedy was ‘The Silent Treatment.’
Alternatively, she has been known to rant and rave at times; sometimes she even throws things around the room. However, that was generally in a larger space with spectators to impress.
He kept his eyes on the road ahead of him and turned the radio up slightly, which is another one of his complacent personality traits, The Avoidance Tactic, and the hourly weather report was broadcasting.
“Sylvia, for the last two miles you’ve been staring at those trees. Those are Sycamore trees, and go ahead and ask me how I know that.” All she did was suck deeply on that cigarette; she left out an enormous puff. The fact of the matter is, that puff completely engulfed her head; it seemed like she was isolating herself inside a cloud of smoke, as though she wasn’t able to hear Jim any longer.
“OK,” Jim started, “since you’ve asked so nicely, I’ll tell you anyway. Way back in the days, when uncle Leroy used to take me into the mountains with him (camping and fishing), one time, a damn tree the size of the Tower of London came crashing down by me. It damn near whacked me (out of existence)! Uncle Leroy said ‘That was a widow-maker,’ because, as the Sycamore tree ages, it gets a disease that hollows them out. The wildlife; such as, squirrels, live inside them. Unfortunately, at some point, as the disease progresses, just like happened to me; violently, the tree falls.
Needless to say, I never forgot the name of that tree. Also, Leroy had a good laugh at my expense that day, but because I was scared, I never went with him again. .