• 5.
    The next person to come a long was a guy from the Priest, in a car, the lucky b*****d. He was in a suit with a matching hat, looking like one of those guys who were trying to inconspicuous but obviously not since everyone else around them looked normal. He had a cross around his neck, which is how I knew he was from the Priest; it was their emblem.

    He seemed happy to see us but looking over at Cerise, she was ready to get this over with and I shared the same feelings. I wonder what she thought of me, and I wondered what the Priest expected from us, at the same time. A good mental picture came to mind but Cerise was fuzzy in it as if I couldn’t imagine her.

    That disappeared when the Priest guy started to talk. He sounded like my dad except he was the same color as my mom. I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or look at him as if he was another anomaly.

    “Dais, Cerise?”

    She stood up without touching her hands to the ground. “Yes?”

    The guy turned to me next. I got up before my name escaped his lips.

    “Thains, Stephen?”


    He came forward and made us hold hands. “By the power of the Priest under the direction of God, I now pronounce you husband and wife.”

    He let go of our hands and they let go as if he was the only thing keeping them together. He went back to the car and brought out two more manila envelops, handing one of them to each of us.

    “Your term has been announced as five years from today. This is a permanent time period until notified otherwise. I will be back in six months from now. Be ready.”

    He left in the same car, left me with a girl I was supposed to live with for five years. I don’t think I could live like husband and wife, especially off the bat. I looked over to Cerise, who was opening the envelope looking as calm as can be. She looked really pretty in the sunset colors that were shining behind her, but I would never tell her that.

    I decided to open my own envelope. Inside was another rule sheet with a map of the farm’s functions on the back and a notice that I was to start school on Tuesday of next week. I wonder who owned this land before us. It was about six hundred and fifty acres including the house and barn. I had never seen this much land available to two, not even twenty, people and here I was, expected to work it with a forest surrounding everything.

    s**t, that’s a lot of land.

    I looked over to Cerise again, still looking as calm as ever. Why was I so fascinated on her opinion? It wasn’t like she was going to give me guidance. Was it because I was going to have to live under the same roof as her?

    I thought I had gotten caught staring at her when her eyes snapped up from the paper and at me, but she just wanted to ask me a question.

    “I would like to sleep in separate rooms.”

    Okay, it was more like a demand than a question but I felt the exact same way. I nodded and grabbed my stuff. Cerise got her stuff together faster than me and was already headed for the house. I didn’t hurry as much as I felt I should.

    The house looked like a typical farmhouse like in the movies but it was a fixer-upper. The paint was peeling, the roof needed to be retiled, and the porch looked like a mess. I couldn’t wait to see the inside. Cerise waited for me at the front door, also not looking forward to seeing the inside.

    The door squeaked into this fixer-upper and the inside was just as bad as the outside except there was apparent dust and furniture with sheets over it. I know what we’re doing for the next few days, major overhaul. I couldn’t wait for it to rain; that was when we found out that the roof leaked.

    Cerise wheeled her things down the hall that was connected to the living room we opened up to. She seemed to know where the bedroom was for the first door she opened contained a bedroom with a queen sized bed, fully ready to sleep in.

    “Do you mind if I take this one?”

    “Go right ahead.”

    She set her stuff inside the room and closed the door behind her.

    “Let’s find another one.”

    We started opening doors around hers. To the left was a bathroom, across the way was a closet for linens, and across the way and to the right was another bedroom, but it was crammed full of furniture and other stuff. The other doors lead to other closets and the basement, which was also crammed full of stuff. Where was I supposed to sleep?

    Apparently Cerise had an idea and decided it without me.

    “Okay, we have one more option.”

    She led me out of the house and to the barn. Without asking what she was thinking, I already knew. She wanted me to sleep in the barn. By the way she walked towards it, I knew I was going to whether I wanted to or not.

    There were a few horses and other animals staring at us as we looked up to the second level where a bunch of hay lay, waiting to be used for something.

    “I’ll go find you a lock.” And then she left.

    The animals looked at me, by myself with luggage beside me, a new roomy.


    Cerise had found a lock and had given me the only key she could find to it. I sat up in the barn until it was dark. The view was pretty nice, considering it smelled like a bunch of s**t. I don’t know how farmers had gotten used to this smell.


    I looked down to find Cerise standing outside with a lantern, waiting for me.

    “Time for supper.”

    I was surprised to find out that we had any food. The house looked like it was abandoned for years and yet, they packed food and cleaned a bedroom for us. Why couldn’t they have at least fixed the roof while they were at it?

    And did Cerise really know how to cook? She looked about as capable of cooking as I was, and I had never cooked anything that wasn’t a TV dinner.

    I went down the stairs and found her still waiting for me. She gave me the lantern and we headed back to the house. It was a lot colder outside than it was in the hay.

    The house looked different when I stepped in last. The sheets were off the furniture, which looked nice and Victorian, and it was cleaner because the years of dust were gone. I set the lantern on the floor near the door because that seemed like the closest place to being appropriate to touching something so sooty looking. The kitchen was spotless and smelled fantastic. On the table were plates of pasta and my stomach growled at the scent.

    Cerise sat down and said a little prayer in her head without inviting me to the table. I sat down and waited for something. I don’t know what. I’ve never been that religious so I didn’t pray or anything. Maybe I wanted Cerise to invite me to pray with her, I don’t know.
    She finished praying and got down to eating but stopped after the second bite, the third one hovering near her mouth. She set the fork down and looked at me.

    “Aren’t you going to eat?”

    I dug my fork in and shoved a huge pile of it in my mouth. Not all of it made it into my mouth and hung out. It tasted good. Cerise continued.

    “To be fair, I think every other day will be the days I cook and the rest are yours. All meals except lunch, you’ll be at school.”

    I couldn’t say anything because my mouth was full of pasta and had a waiting list behind it, if you know what I mean. I was going to protest that it might not be the best idea since I wasn’t a cook at all.

    When I didn’t say anything, a smile crept upon Cerise’s lips as if she was pleased with something and she returned to her own plate. I almost forgot I had food in my mouth. What was she smiling about? I didn’t say anything.

    I chewed and swallowed my food so fast that I started to choke. Cerise gave me one good look and then turned back to her own plate. Did she care if I died?

    After my choke attack, I was free of any obstructions to saying anything.

    “You know I’ve never cooked anything before, right?”

    “Neither have I.”

    If I had food in my mouth, I would begin to choke on it again. She’s telling me that this food that tasted better than the pot roast my mom would make every night, and I mean every night, was coming from a girl who’s never cooked?

    “Wait, I take that back. I have cooked before, but that was soup. I’m sure you’ll learn fast. Breakfast is the easiest.”

    I think she’s cooked breakfast before too since she knows it’s easier. That means I have to cook tomorrow.

    The rest of the meal passed in silence. I finished my food as fast as Cerise did and we both took care of our plates by washing them in the sink. I had to watch Cerise do it because I had never done it before. I got soapy water on my sleeves even though they were rolled up. Cerise dried them for me because she got tired for waiting for me to get out of the house.

    I got the lantern and left after that. Before I opened the door, Cerise called to me.


    I turned and had to go back to the house because she wouldn’t leave the porch. She gave me a bunch of blankets.

    “It’s going to get cold. Goodnight.”

    I went back to the barn and got ready for bed slower than I ever had before, scared that she might be watching me from outside. When I finally laid down, I dreamed of falling on my face from trying to catch one of the chickens down in the coop.