Category: The Big Valley
Word Count: 1000
The new day held promise as dawn’s early rays crept through the open window. Its fingers caressing Jarrod’s shoulders and face on its way to presenting another beautiful spring day.
Not welcoming the tentacles of warmth, Jarrod Barkley rolled onto his side pulling his quilt over his head to blot out the persistent light that was calling him to awaken. Awaken to a day that should have ushered in celebration. Awaken to a day that should have meant togetherness. Tenderness. Instead, this day only beckoned sorrow.
It’s our day, my Love. One year ago, I took you as my wife. To love and to cherish until death do us part.
Jarrod pulled the quilt up tighter over his head and shivered though the rays of daylight were warm.
“Until death do us part,” he whispered as a lone tear escaped from his eye and rolled down his cheek and ran into his ear.
The chime of the grandfather clock in the parlor drifted upstairs and forced Jarrod’s head to appear from out of his dark cave. “Eight o’clock,” he sighed pulling himself out of bed. Knowing his 10:00 appointment with the Harris brothers to settle their land deal wouldn’t wait was enough impetus to move him into the day.
Breakfast was served with the whole Barkley family in attendance. Jarrod picked at his food as he absent-mindedly listened to his two brothers arguing over a planned grain purchase.
“Now Nick, we don’t need that much grain,” Heath contended. “And besides, we’re not getting the best price.”
“Now you hold on there Heath,” stormed Nick in his typical hotheaded manner. “I’ve personally made this deal with Lester Tyson and he assured me that with us buying in bulk, we ARE getting the BEST price and that it can’t be beat.”
“I don’t know Nick. Say what you will but it seems to me that Lester tends to pick his crop short of it being ripe just so he can get it to market first. Besides, you know that when the grain is harvested early, there’s more chance of getting weeds mixed with the grain. You just can’t tell the difference at that stage. What I’m saying Nick is the great deal you THINK you’re getting may be NO deal at all.”
“Jarrod, will you listen to that,” bellowed Nick turning to address his oldest brother. “Now Heath here, he…” The agitated cowboy broke off, seeing that Jarrod was miles away in thought. “What the devil! Jarrod, have you heard anything that has transpired here since you sat down?”
“Huh? Oh yes,” Jarrod replied being jolted out of his own thoughts. “Um, you and brother Heath here are having a disagreement over a grain purchase. Well, I’ll let you two have at it. I’m going to be late for an appointment.” Jarrod placed his napkin on the table and pushed back his chair.
“But Jarrod,” Victoria objected, noticing Jarrod’s almost full plate. “You’ve hardly touched your breakfast. Surely your meeting can wait until you’ve had a decent start to your day.”
“Sorry Mother, but I must get to the office. I’m meeting with an important client about a fairly sizeable land deal. So if you’ll all excuse me,” Jarrod requested. Turning to his Mother, he placed a kiss on her cheek and added, “I just wasn’t feeling very hungry this morning. I’ll be all right. See you all at dinner this evening.”
With that, Jarrod moved out towards the barn and before long, only the hooves of his horse trotting along the ground could be heard as he rode away from the ranch on to his office in Stockton.
It was just beginning to turn dusk as Jarrod put the final touches on the documents that would bring in a fine fee for services rendered. He knew that his family would be waiting dinner for him but there was still something that he just felt compelled to do. Turning his thoughts to his dear lovely wife, he felt a lump in his throat and a tightening in his chest as he brought pen to paper and told his dear one his deepest thoughts.
My Dearest Beth,
It is the third of May as I celebrate my love to you. Oh my Love, how I long for you to rejoice with me on this, our first anniversary as husband and wife.
Beth my dear one, I reach for you and you are not there. I call to you and there is no answer. My eyes search for you and see no one. You are not here. You are not here my Lady Love. Please Beth, come back to me. Come my Lady Love and we shall build a house. Our dream. Our future. Yes, we will build our home. A simple dwelling it will be. We shall have sunshine always. Our beautiful home will have no roof. Nothing to hide the dancing light of your eyes. Come my Beth. Let us walk along the peaceful paths to our special place. Let the fragrance of wild flowers fill our senses as I take you in my arms. Let me caress you with love my dear beautiful Beth.
You will not come back to me, this I know now. Ah, but you will really be with me always. You are in a place, Beth, where they cannot take you away. There you shall remain forever my Love. My heart, Beth. You will remain in my heart until death do us part. I love you.
I love you, Beth
For the second time that day, a single tear squeezed from Jarrod’s eye and weaved its way down his cheek to make its final resting place on the paper in front of him. Rising from his desk, Jarrod Barkley closed up his office and mounted Jingo. He would be home with his family for the evening meal.