His stride lengthened as he came closer to his destination. He was tired after walking for so long, yet he would have traveled farther, if necessary.
The dust he kicked up from the road caught in the wind and wrapped itself loosely around the late afternoon sun – giving the orb the appearance of a ripened apricot. Beneath its honeyed rays, the countryside spread out before him like a vast banquet. Prairie breezes peppered with the chirping of crickets stirred the leaves of alders and poplars, while fireweed and mint filled the ditches with their pleasing hues and savory scents. On any other day, nature’s bounty would have captivated his senses and slowed his step, but today he barely noticed his surroundings. His mind was too occupied with what was yet to come.
Eventually the thin ribbon of road, which had lain flat for miles, bent with the contours of the land into the gentle slope of a valley. As he made his descent, he could taste the dust rising up from his heels. He swallowed hard and ran his tongue thickly over his lips. His canteen, long empty, knocked against his chest reminding him of his lack of preparedness. He pushed aside the thought. He was glad now that he’d stayed the night in Alix. It would have been exhausting traveling from Vancouver to this place in a day.
He wiped his forehead with his sleeve as he shifted his attention back to the road and its trajectory. When he had inquired for directions in the village, he’d been told the farm would be on the other side of this valley. All he needed to do was cross the divide and climb the rise facing it.
Once he reached the top of the opposite bank, however, he was dismayed to see the farmhouse at the end of long drive, appearing no larger than a stack of cards from where he stood. Not a tree or a bend in the road was there to distract an onlooker. The drive was an arrow – the house its target. Whether he liked it or not, his approach would attract a wandering eye like neon. Well, he told himself, there wasn’t a thing he could do about it. Besides, what harm was there in being seen? It was unlikely folks would turn their dogs on him for just walking down their drive.
As he stopped to look around, his mind began to order its collection of jumbled thoughts. What would he say when he saw her? As important as it seemed now, he hadn’t considered it earlier – simply being with her had been his focus, nothing else. Would she want to see him? That hadn’t crossed his mind before, either. But then, he reasoned, why shouldn’t she? He wanted to know more. Wasn’t it natural for her to want that too? But maybe she had no interest in the past. His mind latched itself uneasily onto that thought. He should have called first. It would have provided her with time to prepare herself for their meeting or, at the very least, have given her the opportunity to say “No” in a much tidier way. He shrugged off the doubt. Momentum and curiosity held the reins now. Turning back was not an option. Whatever was going to happen, he would meet it head-on.