Time Well Spent

WHN for Chase a Wild Horse
by  Molly

Itís been a month since Wes died, and a lotís happened in these last four weeks. We got the fencing finished and the herd moved, and as soon as Scott was up to riding again me and him did some more surveying. Add to that the normal everyday jobs that need doing on a ranch this size and our days have been pretty long and full. Itís been what Murdoch would call Ďtime well spentí.

Weíve managed to catch our breath in the evenings, and thatís about all I have done after sunset, ceptiní eat of course! I ainít had any hankeriní to go into town, not even on a Saturday night. I ainít strayed off Lancer land at all; truth be told, Iíve been kinda reluctant to leave what I so nearly turned my back on.

It was all a bit of a rude awakening; Iíd learned another lesson the hard way. Still and all a lot of good has come of it...me and the Old Man weíre...well weíre doiní alright.

Thereís just him and me in the great room right now; Teresaís visiting a friend and Scottís up in his room writing what he told me was a long, overdue letter to his grandfather.

Murdochís at his desk too. Heís got his head in a book, but it ainít the reading kind, itís a ledger. Just as soon as heís toted up all them neat little figures him and me are going head to head in a game of chess. Iíve been looking forward to it all day, I think he has too. Weíll talk as we do battle thatís something we do a lot more of now, talk.

See weíd talked some on our way back from the black mesa. Maybe it was the thrill of the chase that loosened our tongues or maybe it was the charms of twilight. Whatever it was we both opened up a little, and have been doiní much the same since.

He knows I didnít mean to let him down; how much I regret what happened. And I know he didnít mean the things he said, that he was just trying to protect me from Stryker and his men.

Still, I donít know what was going through his mind when he handed me his pocket watch and something surely was.  He was about to tell me, only to suddenly think better of it.

ďWhat?Ē Iíd urged, irritated by his reluctance to share his thoughts with me. It didnít get me anywhere though; he answered me with a shrug and a quiet ďNothingĒ

All the fight drained from me then, and for some reason the precious metal nestling in my hand lost some of its lustre. I tucked it away, out of sight and out of mind.

Anger taints a manís actions, has him do what the rational mind would declare unthinkable. I went and sold a priceless treasure that day, and all for money I knew Wes and me would just drink away.

That beer tasted sour on my tongue and the whisky burned like the fires of hell, and both sat miserably in my gut.

I told Wes I needed some air but what I really needed to do was think. Iíd messed up, and I was beginning to realise by leaving Lancer Iíd messed up some more.

But I wasnít ready to admit that just yet and I managed to half bury that notion. I told myself I was doing the right thing that I didnít need Lancer and Lancer sure as hell didnít need me!

Then, just as I was getting used to the idea of leaving Scott showed up spouting a truth that had my insides roiling.

I couldnít watch him leave, or ride away. I was hurting enough as it was.

And then Wes...well the way he dared the devil I guess he always was living on borrowed time.

But just in time I realised mine didnít have to be! I didnít have to walk away from the best thing that had ever happened to me.

Walk! Who am I kidding? I wasnít walking; I was running! Running scared like some snot nosed kid.

I told myself I could go back but not without the old manís watch! I wouldnít be able to look him in the eye if that wasnít safe in my possession.

So I got it back and tucked it once more where it belonged, in my pocket.

In quite moments such as this I take it out and think on it, wondering what stories it could tell.

Iím turning it over and over in my hand, I like the way it feels, its weight, the warmth that fills me when I acknowledge yet again that  itís mine, and the fact the Old Man gave it to me.

I open it up; study its face, all the time contemplating how many times my fatherís done that very same thing.

Its ebony figures are bold; they stand proud against a white background. Delicately fashioned hands move tirelessly under its crystal dome. The mechanismís hidden and is as mysterious to me as the workings of the human heart; all I know is that they both beat with life of their own.

I close it, hearing the reassuring snap of the clasp before holding it to my ear to listen to the steady passing of time.

Murdoch had said it was old but it was still a good time piece, that and the fact its gold is really all I know about it.

I want to know more.

I gaze in Murdochís direction, get to my feet then step over to stand beside him. I hold out the timepiece and wait for his eyes to meet mine.

ďJohn?Ē

ďYou said it was old.Ē

He smiles at me ďIt is. It was my fatherís...your grandfathers...Ē

Once he starts talking he canít seem to stop and Iím carried away, back in time, back to people and places important in his life and important now in mine.

 

Molly

 

 

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