This story was inspired by the following word prompts:
Today’s things are: gorgeous, blue-eyed, apple orchard
Broken Dreams, New Horizons
She walked between the trees of the apple orchard, the sweet smell of the ripe fruit wafting in the warm late summer heat. The leaves created enough shade to prevent the sun beating down on her head. She wore a wide-brimmed sun hat of bright red dyed straw. Her light cotton dress was also red with white polka dots. She looked gorgeous, at least she hoped she did, today was important.
At the bottom of the orchard was a little area on the border between her father’s property and that of the neighbouring farm owned by the Carltons. This spot marked no-mans land and a small bench placed in the shade of an American Beech tree had been the site of many a liaison between the Carlton clan and the MacAdams over the years. Sitting beneath the resplendent tree, was Tom Carlton, the oldest of the Carlton brothers and her betrothed. How the two families had celebrated their betrothal, the unification of those two clans, the largest landowners in the valley, had caused great joy. Old Ephraim Carlton and Jock MacAdam had reminisced at how their own fathers had maintained a bitter feud for year which had only ended when Jock had saved Ephraim from drowning in the creek when it had suddenly swollen in the spring rains. Now the families were uniting and there was much rejoicing. The party had lasted days. That had been two months ago.
She sat down next to Tom. He gave her his usual sparkling blue-eyed smile and tried to hold her hand. The sun just caught the diamond on her engagement ring as she pulled her hand away from his. A breeze whipped up suddenly and a few leaves fell in a spiral at their feet.
“Tom, I want you to tell me, truthfully, have you been seeing someone else?” She looked up at him, a small tear in her eye.
He looked straight at her “No, Mary, how could you say such a thing? There is no one else, there never could be anyone else. You are the one I want. Just think of the life we can have together. We can bring our two farms together. We can bring this place into the twentieth century. There is so much we could do together. This place has been stuck in the past for too long. I thought you shared my dream. You want to embrace the future like me, you’re not stuck in the past. You love modern things like cameras and photography, you’ve always been into that. You could still practice your hobby, I won’t stop you, if that’s what you’re worried about.”
“No Tom, I want more than just a hobby. I have been accepted to study photography at University and I’ve decided that that’s exactly what I’m going to do. Here Tom, have this.”
She removed the engagement ring from her finger and gave it to him along with an envelope.
“Good-bye Tom” She said and walked back up the hill, through the apple orchard, her red dress blowing in the breeze.
Tom stared after her, wondering what had happened to change her mind, wondering whether he could change it back again. He opened the envelope. Inside was a number of photographs that Mary had obviously taken with her hobby camera. One was of him with Jessica Turlough kissing under her parent’s front porch. Another was of him with Susannah Charles down by the fishing lake. Each photograph had been taken over the last few weeks of him with a different girl. He knew his dream of becoming the largest landowner in the county was over. He’d lost his dream and he’d lost her too.
Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 06/August/2018