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To Everything, There Is A Season

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“Hey great presentation in there Zelda! It’s a really great idea!” 

Zelda Spellman looked up from the open folder on her desk, a haughty, self-assured smile on her face. Her assistant stood in the doorway of her office, grinning. 

“Thank you Oliver. Of course it was a great idea. I think that our acquisition of that farmland will be perfect for the condominium I have in mind. We can really help Greendale come out of the dark ages, and join the rest of civilization in modernity—and class.’

The tall young man just nodded, before looking back down at his phone as it pinged. 

“Oh! That’s the construction company. I’d better call them back so I can book a time for you to meet with their head on construction, to scope out the land. I don’t think there is much to scope out, though. I also will let you know when I’ve gotten in contact with the architect.” He looked down at his watch and held up a hand to Zelda. “Gotta run. I’ll be back with your 3:45 coffee.”

Zelda smiled briefly before turning her attention back to her computer screen in front of her. There was a small alert noise, and she looked up to see a reminder pop down. 

Sabrina’s soccer game! Today at 5PM!

“Oh shit. I’ve completely forgotten! Hilda is never going to let me hear the end of it.” Zelda muttered to herself, under her breath. She looked at the clock on her wall. She slid open her desk drawer and took out a bottle of pills, popping one in her mouth and rinsing it down with the remnants of her cold coffee from earlier. 

If I leave now, I may make it in time to catch some of the game…

Zelda closed her laptop, and unplugged everything, frantically tucking the cords into her purse, and dialing Oliver’s number on her phone.

“Hey it’s me.”

“Zelda. What’s up?”

“I forgot that I have to go to my niece’s soccer game. I promised her I would go, but I still need to do some work on the farm project.” 

Zelda turned off the lights in her office, and locked the door, walking down the hallway for the elevators. 

“Hey, what’s the name of the owners again? It was something that sounded common yet unusual.”

“The family is called Wardwell, and they’ve had the farm in Greendale for many generations.”

“Mmn. Spare me on the history and personal details. That’s one way to make yourself start to feel sorry for the people whose land we are buying. Especially since they aren’t making much revenue anyways. We can figure out the rest once we get the owners to sell.”

Zelda smelled familiar cologne as she pushed the button for the elevator, and she grimaced to herself.

Time to put on a show...

“Oliver...I gotta go. Keep me updated on that meeting. I need it booked ASAP.”

Zelda hung up her phone and didn’t even have to turn to the left to know who had walked up beside her. It was her boss, Faustus Blackwood. There was a ding as the elevator doors opened in front of them.

“After you,” Faustus gestured, stretching his arm out. Zelda stepped into the elevator, and he followed, standing beside her. The moment the doors closed, he reached out his hand to slide it over her rear. 

“Mmn. Exquisite. And just where do you think you are headed off to so early?”

“I…” Zelda shivered as his breath was hot on the side of her neck. “I actually have to catch my niece’s soccer game. I promised my sister I would make it out to at least one.”

“I see. And your plans for that pitiful little Farm. How are those going?”

“I will be meeting with a contractor and an architect this week, to scope out how we want things to go.”

Faustus gripped Zelda’s arm and squeezed it slightly, while leaning in close to whisper. 

“Now Zelda, don’t mess up on your first big project. It would be very very bad for my company—and you, if you make an embarrassment out of things.”

Zelda could feel the Valium she had taken start to kick in, the nerves that she would normally be experiencing now dulled by the benzodiazepine. She put on her usual cold demeanor, and pushed her shoulders back.

“As if I would mess things up. Don’t you know I am as invested in this company just as much as you are? Besides, when this condo project is in full swing, and it is a success—”

“If..” Faustus interrupted.

“When I am successful, we will be making a considerable profit.” The elevator landed on the bottom floor, and Faustus pushed the button to keep the door closed.

“That’s what I like to hear. Money and power are our two main goals here…never forget that.” 

Faustus slid his hand up to cup Zelda’s breast, a look of concentration on his face. She tried not to shrink back from his touch, and gave him a contrived smile. She knew how to play the game, even if she didn’t like playing it. 

“Will I see you later, Zelda?”

“I don’t think so. I might have dinner plans with my family...” 

“Well it’s not like that has ever stopped you before.” Faustus studied her from beneath a supercilious brow, his eyes raking over her. 

“Anyways. Carry on. I have to go collect Judith and Judas from school.” 

Zelda reached forward to push the button to open the elevator, and Faustus grabbed her forearm.

“Don’t mess this up, Zelda.”

“I won’t.” Zelda said sternly, a bit of an edge to her voice. She left the elevator, walking quickly to the parking lot. Her Mercedes Benz G-Class SUV was parked up front, right next to Faustus’s luxury car of the month. Excellent parking was one of the perks of being promoted by Faustus. Originally she had been a part of a smaller holdings company, and they got bought out by Faustus. He had taken a liking to her, and she played his game, power her main goal. She didn’t really care for feelings, especially not those of Faustus Blackwood. She didn’t have time for that. Instead, she was more interested in rising to the top, and gaining control over Faustus. She dreamed of the day she would be in his position, as CEO, and he would be taking orders from her. Zelda climbed into her, and shut the door. She placed her purse on the floor, in front of the passenger seat, and withdrew her pack of cigarettes. With a sigh of relief, Zelda lit the cigarette and took a long drag.

That’s better…

 


 

Cars sat bumper to bumper, stretching across the bridge that led to Greendale, their occupants furious. Zelda lit another cigarette, and turned on her GPS for a traffic update. A robotic voice announced that there was an accident up ahead.

Great...now I will be late for sure.

Zelda rolled her eyes and sagged back against the seat, tapping her fingers on the steering wheel. Her phone made a chiming noise and she picked it up, unlocking it. It was an email from Oliver. He had added an appointment with the lead of construction for her, later that week. Then they were scheduled to drive around Wardwell Farm that Friday, to take a look at the property. Zelda scrolled through some more emails, checking on some of the other properties that they were working on. She closed her email app, tired of looking at work, and opened up the browsing app on her phone. She typed in ‘Wardwell Farm Greendale’ into the search bar, and hit search. 

A 5-star rating and great reviews. Too bad that they don’t have enough money to un-sink themselves.

Zelda clicked on the first hit, the company website. She found out that the farm not only produced their own dairy, but also ran a seasonal pumpkin patch, which was a ‘Greendale staple.’ 

“Wardwell Farm was established in the late 1800s, by Keith Wardwell when he arrived from Scotland—eh, boring.”

There was a section on the website that had pictures of the farm, and Zelda swiped through them, though she had already seen a few. There was a stereotypical red barn, a silo, and windmill. Zelda raised an eyebrow, and kept clicking through the photos. Someone must’ve taken some photographs during the fall season last year, because the next 20 pictures were of the farm when they had guests. There were various booths set up all around the main area in front of the barn, tiny lights on a strand decorating each one. There were families with small children, groups of teenagers, and older couples. All appeared to be laughing and enjoying themselves. People held caramel apples, kids pet animals, and there were pumpkins everywhere . It looked like a scene straight out of a Hallmark movie. 

It looks like people really enjoy themselves here...better not think of it too much, or it will make things even harder come Friday.

Zelda swiped for the next picture, and saw a petite woman sitting astride a tractor, a bed filled with hay hooked up behind her. All of the people in the back of the flatbed were smiling. The caption underneath the photo said: Hayrides during the fall! 

Zelda zoomed in on the photo, and looked at the woman. She had her hair braided in two pigtails, that sat over her shoulders. She was wearing a plaid shirt and overalls, which looked to be a little too big for her. That wasn’t what caught Zelda’s attention, though. It was the smile that was plastered across the woman’s face, seemingly caught in a moment of glee while atop a tractor, of all things. There were crinkles of laughter around the woman’s eyes, and the glasses she wore sat low on her nose. Zelda’s eyes were drawn to a dimple in the woman’s cheek, just below a defined cheekbone. A car horn blared behind Zelda, and she looked up to see that the traffic ahead of her had cleared. She put her car in drive and drove forward. Sabrina’s game would be starting in 15 minutes, and Zelda was still 30 minutes away. She gave her car some more gas and sped along, carefully taking twists and turns on the road back into Greendale. 

When she came drove past the sign that read Welcome To Greendale! , Zelda couldn’t help but roll her eyes. She really despised the little town, even though it was where she had been born and raised. It brought back memories she would rather leave buried. Her, Hilda, and Edward had A lovely childhood in Greendale. Their parents were the wealthiest family in town, and their children wanted for nothing. Zelda let out a forlorn sigh. It would be 16 years that October since Edward passed away. After his and Diana’s deaths, her and Hilda were left with Sabrina. They already had taken in Ambrose, their cousin’s boy, after much in-fighting between relatives. When it came to Edward’s child, though, there was no hesitation in who she would be raised by. Zelda and Hilda proudly raised Sabrina as though she were their own daughter, and she loved her aunties dearly; however, the older Sabrina got, the harder it got for Zelda. She was so much like Edward, and even Diana. Some days Zelda had to take moments to herself, to mourn. 

Returning to Greendale was always left Zelda feeling uneasy. Sure, she came home every weekend, and sometimes saw her family during the week, but she tried to stay away as much as she could. Sometimes, Zelda dwelled on the fact that she had never settled down to have a family of her own.  She knew that the modern woman didn’t need to be tied down via the conventions of traditional marriage. Marriage wasn’t a concern, or a desire, at least not at the moment. But as she was getting older, she realized that she wanted only two things more than anything: to have a child, and to be loved. She had tried so hard for a child. There were countless visits to fertilization clinics, doctors appointments, vitamin regimens, hormone therapy. She had even given up smoking for a few years, trying to make her body as welcome a home as possible for a future child. It never worked out, though, and miscarriage after miscarriage left Zelda beaten down, weak, and eventually callous. It seemed her body had made the decision for her. Zelda was tired, having tried so hard for so long. Her final attempt left her in the hospital, exhausted and catatonic. So, she gave up, and fell into a deep depression. 

Love and romance were still at the back of Zelda’s mind, but she had practically given up on those as well. She could do without relationships. Sex was always there, always an option to release some tension. Zelda was the type of person who could have fun with anyone, regardless of their gender. She was not picky when it came to pleasure; still, she preferred the company of her own hand and a collection of toys. It was easier to keep people at an arm’s length and not have to worry about them getting too close, opening up and risking them find out about your past failures. It wasn’t that Zelda was completely done with relationships, rather, she didn’t particularly need one in her life. She’d had a few trysts under her belt, long-forgotten memories, and her current unwanted on-and-off dalliance with Faustus. Her life wasn’t exactly terrible, but it also wasn’t where she had hoped it to be. So, instead of dwelling on her losses, Zelda threw herself into her work. And lucky for her, work kept her quite busy. She ended up working so much over the past 6 years that she had obtained a small, posh apartment in Riverdale. It was in one of the areas of town had been gentrified by her company—well, Faustus’s company, Blackwood Holdings & Management. Riverdale had become a modern yet quaint town, boasting eateries and shops with organic food, unique gyms, condos, parks, and other boutiques. Zelda was proud of her work for the company, and was doing quite well financially as a result of it. 

 


 

There was a tap on Zelda’s shoulder as she held her cell phone up to her ear.

“Just a minute!” She whispered, not turning around to look. The tap was there again, this time more urgent.

“Zelda!”

“I said just a minute! Can’t you see I’m on the phone? No—sorry, no, that wasn’t meant for you. Someone was interrupting me.” Zelda turned to look back in her sister’s direction, fire in her eyes. 

“Yep...I think that the natural juice shop will be an excellent addition to the bottom floor of the condo. Yeah, yeah. The younger, health-centric crowd will get a kick out of having fresh, cold-pressed juice on the site of what used to be a farm. I think it will be great.” Zelda paused, and bit at the corner of her fingernail. 

“Mhmmn. Hopefully I can convince the owner to sell. Yes. Yes, exactly. There isn’t much left. Oh yeah they are definitely going under. Have been for a while…”

Zelda shifted her weight to her other leg, and looked across the parking lot of Baxter High School. She could hear the cheers of the crowd coming from behind her, as Sabrina’s soccer game neared the end. When she first arrived at the school, not 15 minutes earlier, Zelda had barely sat down in the bleachers before she was rushing out to answer her ringing phone. Sabrina had stood up out of the huddle and looked for Hilda in the crowd, and saw Zelda there too. Her face got excited, and then fell when she saw Zelda rushing out. Hilda nearly cried at the expression on her niece’s face, and had decided to go find Zelda before the game was over.

“Alright Oliver. Thanks. I will get back to you on that other thing—oh! And let me know when you have that architect on board. I really like his work. Alright...okay, thanks.”

Zelda turned around to see Hilda’s retreating form, rushing back towards the noisy crowd. She walked back over to the field, cautious of her heels. When she got there, everyone was screaming with joy, and the Baxter High students who had attended the game were running out into the field. She saw people crowding around the team, and Sabrina being hoisted into the air. Zelda couldn’t hide her smile, pride surging through her. At least she got a glimpse of her niece being praised by her peers. She deserved it. Sabrina had practiced tirelessly, working to get a spot on the soccer team. When she finally made the team, they all went out to eat, in celebration. Tears formed in Zelda’s eyes and she turned away from the crowd. She needed to do better at being there for Sabrina. Her niece saw her as a mother, as Zelda had mostly taken over the more authoritative role in her upbringing. They currently were at a rough patch in their relationship. Sabrina was at an age where she wasn’t shy on calling Zelda out on her absences from the family. It made Zelda feel guilty, and that guilt kept her away even more. She couldn’t face them, didn’t want to be reminded of all of the things she was missing out on. Besides, Faustus kept her busy at work, much to her dismay. She was very well off since being promoted by him, and she didn’t want to do anything to upset him, or risk getting all of her titles and accolades stripped away. 

Zelda walked through the screaming crowd of people, and walked quickly back to her car. She wiped some tears away from her eyes as she started the car, pulling away from the school before the post-game traffic started to build up. Before she knew it, Zelda found herself pulling into the parking lot of the grocery store on the way home to grab a small bouquet of flowers for Sabrina. She rushed over to the front corner of the store where various bouquets were available for purchase. Zelda scanned over the flowers, most looked tired, as they had been sitting out all day. There was a nice bunch of daisies that looked decent, and Zelda grabbed them quickly, as though someone else were waiting around to take them from her. On her way to the checkout, she paused, and turned to visit the liquor section. She passed the dairy on the way there, and her eyes drifted over the organic section. Zelda looked at the milk, variety of cheese, and eggs, curious to see if Wardwell Farm had any of their products in the store. There was a section with milk and eggs that seemed to be separate from the rest. When Zelda got a closer look, she found what she was looking for. There was a handwritten sign affixed to the case above the dairy products that read: ‘Fresh From Wardwell Farm!’ . Zelda pursed her lips, and wondered just how popular this farm was in town. She shook herself from her daydream, and selected a bottle of whiskey for herself. Zelda let out a sigh of relief as she approached the front of the store, and saw that the self-checkout was working, for once. Zelda paid for her items, making haste, and went back to her car. Butterflies danced around in her stomach during the drive, and she hoped that she would make it home before her family, so she could head straight to bed. 

The familiar trees that started to line the street alerted Zelda that her turn was coming up soon. She drove past a few more before taking a left, turning onto the familiar dirt path. Her heart gave a little lurch as she saw her home, her real home, in the distance. She may have not liked returning to Greendale, but she sure did miss her house. A series of memories from her childhood, from raising Sabrina and Ambrose always greeted her when she came back home. It felt good to be back. Plus, she could go and investigate the Wardwell Farm while she was in town. Perhaps everything would go as planned.

 


 

Zelda was the first one downstairs the next morning, already seated at the kitchen table with a cigarette and newspaper in hand. She had a cup of espresso next to her, and her perfectly polished hand came from around the newspaper every now and then to retrieve and set back down her cup. She heard movement near the kitchen, and knew it was probably Sabrina.

“Yes?” Zelda spoke, lowering the paper a bit. Her niece sat looking at her with a smile on her face.

“Thank you for the flowers, Auntie.”

“You’re welcome.” Zelda looked back at the paper, not wanting to make eye contact. Sabrina’s fingertips appeared over the top edge of the newspaper, and pulled it down gently.

“I saw you at my game last night.” 

“I may have made an appearance.” Zelda cleared her throat and raised the paper back up, covering her face.

“I made the winning goal. I know you didn’t see that, though. I was just glad that you came.” 

Zelda’s shoulders sank, and tears filled her eyes. She tried to focus on what she was reading, but instead found herself looking at her lap, letting out a sniffle.

“Are you...are you crying , Aunt Zee?” Sabrina tried to lean around the newspaper to see Zelda’s face.

“No, no. I just have allergies, that’s all. You know how the pollen can be at this time of year.”

“Sure…” Sabrina didn’t sound convinced, and Zelda cursed herself for becoming emotional. She just felt terribly guilty about not being there for her family more. Coming back home always made her realize that she was missing precious moments in Ambrose and Sabrina’s lives, moments that she would never get to experience. 

“So. I have a boyfriend now.” Sabrina sat with her hands under her chin, beaming over at Zelda. The newspaper rapidly fell down, and Zelda looked at Sabrina with a frown on her face.

“Excuse me? And who is this young man that I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting?”

“Oh you’ve met him. It’s Harvey...Harvey Kinkle? Remember, we went to school together since we were younger?”

“I think the name rings a bell. So, this Harvey. Is he treating you well?”

“Yes, of course. He loves me. He wouldn’t do anything to hurt me.”

“Good. Are you two having sex?”

“Aunt Zee! No!” Sabrina looked around, checking to see if anyone else had heard. Zelda was unphased by Sabrina’s embarrassment, and just simply puffed on her cigarette.

“Sabrina, there is nothing wrong with sex. Just as long as you are taking precautions. It is important to make sure that you both communicate with each other, that you both are consenting. Never stay with someone who makes you do anything you don’t want to do.”

“We aren’t doing those things. Besides, we’re so young.”

“That doesn’t mean anything, Sabrina. There are plenty of kids your age engaging in risky sexual behavior. I just want to make sure you are safe, that’s all.” 

Sabrina blushed, and looked uncomfortable. She got up from the seat, an anxious look on her face. 

“Uh...thanks Auntie, but I’ve gotta go. Harvey is on his way to pick me up anyways. Bye!” 

Zelda shook her head, and returned to looking at her newspaper. Hilda entered the room as Sabrina left, and looked back at her niece walking to the front door.

“What’s gotten into her?” Hilda asked, walking over to put the kettle on.

“I had a little chat with our niece about the importance of safe sex, and consent. I hardly made it more than a few sentences in before she was dashing off, embarrassed. I hate that these puritanical schools always teach about these things in a way that makes teenagers even ashamed to talk about it. It’s ridiculous!”

“You know, she would probably listen to you if you were around more.”

Zelda took another sip of her coffee, trying to ignore the guilt she felt.

“I’m sorry, it’s just that I have—”

“I know, I know, you have to work. Hey how is that going by the way? Any fun new projects?”

“Well actually…” Zelda sat down her newspaper, folding it up. “We have a new one coming up. I’m heading it. I proposed it to Faustus and the team, and they gave me the go ahead.”

“Ooh sounds exciting! You’ve always wanted to lead a project!” 

“Yes. And I think it is really going to be a hit with the late twenties to early thirties crowd. We do need to encourage a younger crowd to move to Greendale. We should be able to offer some of the luxuries that larger cities offer, but with a small town feel.”

Hilda smiled to herself as she made her cup of tea. She had seen her sister through some hard times in her life. Though Zelda was always busy with work, it was nice to see her excited about something for once. Hilda stirred some sugar into her tea, and moved to sit down at the table, next to Zelda.

“So, tell me more about it!”

“Well, I proposed we buy a farm—”

“A farm?”

“Yes. Stick with me for a minute.”

Hilda nodded, waiting for more information.

“So, we are buying a farm, and turning it into a modern condo with health-conscious shops, and a park. What do you think?”

“Which farm is it that you are buying? Not the one here in Greendale?”

“Yes, actually. Wardwell Farm. I was looking over land here, and came across it on the map. It’s perfect! I had Oliver make some phone calls for me, and he dug up their finances for the past few quarters over the past three years.They haven’t been doing too well, and the owner is probably about ready to sell right now. They probably could use the money.”

“Zelda...Wardwell Farm is the oldest farm here! It is practically a Greendale staple! It’s a historical landmark! You can’t just buy it and turn it into one of your posh people skyscraper apartment things! The people who will move in probably don’t even actually care about health, or the environment, or anything.”

Zelda was shocked at Hilda’s reaction, and opened and closed her mouth a few times.

“Well I...wow. I certainly wasn’t expecting that reaction.”

“Zelda everyone loves Wardwell Farm. It is a Greendale tradition to go there every fall. You know this. Don’t you remember? We used to take the kids there, when they were little. Remember how Mother and Father would never let us go? I used to beg them.”

Zelda vaguely remembered Hilda as a child, crying about not being allowed to do certain things. Their parents had insisted that they stick with their lessons, and extra-curricular activities that they had picked out for their kids. Zelda then thought of when Sabrina was a child, and how they tried to give her a childhood that included more fun than their own.

“That’s where that was?”

“Yes, Zelda. That farm was a large part of Sabrina’s childhood, as well as many other children here in town. You can’t just tear it down.”

“Well, I can’t exactly just go back into work and tell Faustus that I am not going through with my plans, because I have ‘fond personal memories’ that interfere with our business.”

“That man still has too much power over you, Zelda. I really hope you decide to leave the company one day. It’s not worth it. You shouldn’t be afraid of your boss. Especially when he makes you do... things . It’s just not right.” Hilda shook her head and stood up from the table, taking her tea with her into the next room. Zelda remained seated, and stared at the table, eyes focusing on a smoothed over knot in the wood. She thought back to a few weeks ago, when she found herself on her knees in Faustus’s office, his hand painfully gripping her hair. A shudder washed over Zelda, and she quickly downed the rest of her coffee before deciding to leave. 

Might as well get a look at the farm before we start showing up with contractors and architects. Probably best to just ease our way into things, that way the owner won’t be too upset. Then again, how upset can they be if they are sinking?

Zelda gathered her belongings from her room upstairs and went to her car. She looked up Wardwell Farm in her GPS and punched ‘GO’. As she was turning her car around in the driveway, she saw Ambrose waving to her from the front door. With a slight wave, she put her car back in drive and headed down the road, the farm her destination. 

 


 

“Oliver? Hey, I’m going to be coming in a little late today.”

Zelda had driven up to the front gate of Wardwell Farm, and parked her car. She decided to give Oliver a call and let him know where she’d be, that it was work-related, so Faustus wouldn’t be upset with her. 

“Hey Zelda. I was wondering where you were.” Oliver’s voice came through the speaker system on Zelda’s car.

“I’ve decided to make a stop at the farm on the way back into Riverdale. Hopefully I can meet the owner, maybe butter him up and let him know of our plan.”

“That sounds great Zelda. I’ll keep working from this side of town.”

“Perfect. Thanks. I’ll let you know if I make any headway with the owner. Talk to you later.”

Zelda hung up the phone and looked across the large field. She could see some cows munching on the grass, as well as horses in the distance. The road ahead was made out of dirt, and Zelda was glad that she had a car that was a ways up off the ground.

“All right. Let’s go and see what this farm is about.” 

Zelda started down the road, and recognized the large barn from the photos she had seen online, as well as the silo. There were several holding fences, and bales of hay stacked around near the barn. On the other side of the silo, she could see the pumpkin patch. Zelda kept going slowly down the road, and saw a small two-story cottage. Zelda turned towards the direction of the house, and saw an old red pickup truck parked next to it. She pulled up beside the truck, and parked. It was a nice farm, Zelda had to admit. It wasn’t too big, rather quaint. She opened her car door and stepped out, the smell of animals in the air. 

“Eugh.” Zelda waved a hand in front of her face, and closed her car door, locking it behind her. She walked carefully across the dirt towards the front door, not wanting to ruin her heels. A wooden sign that read ‘WARDWELL’ hung from the front edge of the porch. Zelda slid her purse onto her forearm, and raised her hand to knock on the door. She knocked several times in a row and stood back, waiting for someone to open the door. There was no answer. She waited a few seconds more.

Maybe they’re in the restroom or no one is at home? 

Zelda hesitated for about two minutes before knocking again. 

“Hello? Is anyone there?” She called out, not wanting to startle whomever was in the house. Zelda knocked another time.

“Helloooo?”

Maybe I should just come back a different day.

“Just a minute!” 

Zelda perked up. It was a woman’s voice, and it sounded like it was coming from outside, around the other side of the house. Zelda stepped back off the porch and leaned back, trying to see if someone was outside. Suddenly, the front door opened, and Zelda looked back to see who it was. 

“Hi! I’m sorry to leave you standing out here like that. I’m Mary. Can I help you?”

Zelda stood dumbfounded for a few moments, taking in the woman who stood before her. She walked back up onto the porch, not sure what to say. The woman was wiping her work-worn hands on a small towel as she smiled at Zelda, expecting her to say something. Zelda saw the freckled and tanned skin that peered out from under her clothing.

It’s the woman from that picture on the website!

She wasn’t a very large woman, and was around Zelda’s height—without heels, of course. She had a very peculiar-looking face, and wore not a drop of makeup. She had sharp features, a small, delicate mouth, and striking blue eyes. Her hair was braided back into a ponytail, which fell over her shoulder. Some strands had escaped, and blew around her face. She was a lithe woman—Zelda could tell from the delicate bones of her wrists—but had on baggy clothing. She wore a plaid shirt, the sleeves rolled up over her elbows, and a pair of overalls.

Just like in the picture.

Zelda had to hold back her laughter over the stereotypical farmer’s outfit the woman wore. She looked down at the woman’s feet and saw a pair of socks that looked handmade. It reminded her of Hilda’s knitting, and it made her smile. She quickly remembered herself, though, and cleared her throat.

“I’m sorry, yes. I’m here to talk to you about your farm?”

“Oh boy. It must be serious if they’re sending fancy business people down here!”

Zelda blushed. She didn’t know why, but for some reason she felt guilty and unsettled.

“I didn’t quite get your name…?”

“Oh, uh I’m Zelda. Zelda Spellman, of Blackwood Holdings and Management.”

“Well then, Zelda Spellman of Blackwood Holdings and Management. Come inside. We can talk in the kitchen. I’ve just gathered some fresh eggs from the chickens. That’s where I was when you were knocking on the door.”

Zelda seemed uneasy, and hesitated on the front porch.

“It’s okay, I won’t bite. I promise.” Mary smiled, and Zelda looked away, slightly put off by the ease with which the woman displayed her joy. Zelda stepped inside, and Mary reached around her to close the door. She looked around the house. It had a rustic feel to it, as though you were visiting a fairy tale cottage, hidden away in the woods. The smell of freshly baked bread and just-brewed coffee were in the air, and Zelda’s stomach growled.

“This way.” 

Zelda politely stepped out of her shoes, and followed the woman around the corner.