Just This Side of Tomorrow – Part One
Just This Side of Tomorrow – Part One (by: ScriptGirl)
Livy sits in her rocking chair, the creak of each push lulling her further into a state of relaxation. There was a time when this house filled her with such a crippling idleness that it seemed there was nothing to do but relax. Now, here she is, grabbing a few minutes while her sweet dough rises to do just that. It’s been six years, and yet she still chuckles at the thought of it.
Ray enters through the kitchen door, hollering:
“Liv! Livy, Honey. We need you!”
Livy shuffles into the kitchen and spots her two men, covered in blood and slime, grinning from ear to ear. Both Ray and Danny hold their arms out like scarecrows. Livy laughs at the sight of them.
“Outside, Boys. Come on. Let’s rinse you down outside.”
They step out to the lean-to where Livy pumps water into the bucket. Ray holds out his hands as she rinses off the thick rubber gloves. Removing them, he hangs the soiled apron on the hook and splashes it off as well. Then he turns, helping with his son, whose happy being administered to by both his parents.
“I did it, Mama. Dad had to hold her still but I did it.”
Livy glances at Ray for confirmation. Ray nods back in response.
“He did real fine. That calf was born without a care in the world. I tell ya, Liv - it was a sight to see.
Ray shakes his head, almost in disbelief. His face beams.
“I had my arm in there right up to my elbow, right Dad?”
Livy sticks her tongue out a little in disgust. Danny laughs at this. Even from a very young age he’s always been aware that his mother’s part city girl.
“Do you want to come and see her Mama? She’s so small…”
Livy nods her head at him, playfully tugging his cap down over his eyebrows. Danny leads the way towards the barn. Climbing the two posts, he rests his knees on the top if the gate.
“See, there she is. Isn’t she a beaut?”
Livy gazes at the soft, brown lump that moves up and down with each new breath.
“She sure is.”
They stand silently for a bit, taking in the presence of a brand new life in the room. Ray, unable to help himself, starts mucking out the stall next door.
“What should we call her, Mama?”
“Supper.” Ray answers.
Livy frowns playfully at him. He’s acutely aware of the dangers of growing attached. That whole thing with Martha and the horses had been enough to sour anyone on the idea of keeping animals. And she had been eleven at the time, still five years older than Danny is now.
This is the third calf born to their farm so far. Ray hadn’t wanted to take this on with the crops as busy as they are. But Hank had been persuasive enough that in the end he’d decided to give it a try. With the world slowly getting back to normal now, the government money and workers they’ve grown accustomed to have petered off. Time to try something new.
Of course, he's seen animals born in his time but now he’s starting to enjoy the idea of learning things alongside of his son. It made the idea of passing the farm down to Danny just that much more meaningful - and important.
Livy takes Danny by the shoulder and guides him towards the house. She turns back to Ray.
“There’s fresh coffee. Want some?”
Ray wipes his brow with his shirtsleeve. Leaning the rake against the post, he catches up to them. He takes hold of her hand.
Stepping onto the threshold of the kitchen doorway, they hear telephone’s three rings echoing from the hall. Livy turns to Ray, excitedly.
“That’ll be Martha. She was going to call me about the four of us going to the pictures on Saturday. The new Lana Turner show’s playing in La Junta!”
Ray shakes his head, grinning in mock disapproval.
Danny runs past them.
“I’ll get it. Hello?”
Saying nothing into the phone, he holds the phone out to Livy.
“I think its Aunt Martha.”
Livy chuckles as she speaks into the receiver.
“Hi, I - ”
Ray stands next to her, waiting to hear what was in store for this weekend.
“Martha, what’s the matter? Are you all right?”
Martha’s voice, different from her usual gentle self, comes through the phone in strident, high-pitched tones. Ray clutches his hands behind his back and leans against the wall. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees that Danny’s taking in every word.
“Go water your mother’s garden.”
Danny sighs, his shoulders slouching in disappointment. He lingers a little longer.
“Now.” Ray speaks more sternly.
Danny runs outside.
“Of course you do. I know. Yes, it is. I know she’s not. Yes, I will. All right. I’ll speak with you tomorrow.”
Ray, panicked at first, can now read from Livy that this is not a life or death situation. He takes a deep breath, almost afraid to ask. He raises his eyebrows at Livy, waiting. Livy sighs and tightens the apron around her waist.
Ray hesitates, never one to appreciate high drama. Livy takes his hands. He switches it up, and grasps hers inside his own. Her fingers are small and cold. He can see she’s concerned, but traces of something more linger in the small lines pinching a frown between her eyebrows.
“Well then, what is it?”