Sometimes Jerry wondered what his subconscious would conjure up as his last memory before he died. He always imagined it would feel like a fast array of family portraits. His mother cooking porridge over an open flame. His father playing the violin in their one bedroom house. The feeling of tiny feet pressed into his face kicking him out of bed early in the morning from one of his many siblings. Or maybe the sharp yet fragrant scent of pine needles on his long walk from his house to the Cuthbert farm.
But, no. Nothing like that entered his mind on this very cold and rainy day. Roof shingles were not important fixtures in the middle of a torrential downpour, but the Cuthbert’s had been kind to him and it was the least he could do. Plus, the very benefit of proving Anne wrong would be well worth any fear he had climbing on the very old farm house this particular day.
However, during this one particular bad storm at this very peculiar time on this very peculiar day; Anne Shirley Cuthbert was correct. And it was the fucking worst.
He was sure footed. He had to be after all. You don’t become a second in command of a giant piece of farmland by being an imbecile, non? But maybe you could. After all, the island was small and many men were looking more inland for big city jobs. Working on a farm was considered tedious rather than posh and less financially prospering.
The rain had been thick. The downpour heavy. The crowbar used for loosening the rotten shingles had been thrown haphazardly from Jerry’s hand causing a sudden shift in his balance. Before he knew it, he was falling.
The icy rain continued to beat down on him as he tried to reach for purchase. The landing was swift but painful with the sudden impact of the sloshy mud beneath him immediately steeping into his rather thin farming clothes.
He thought of her. Of course he did. He always thought of her. Of the first time he saw her so many years ago. The way she danced when she thought no one was watching. Her slightly inebriated smile as she watched him trying to hang red and blue ribbons from the ceiling bannisters resulting in constant knots. The way she laughed with her friends trying to mimic the aristocratic ladies entering the parlor.
“I say Ruby, will though fore art hither dither?” She shouted, taking her pristine white gloves off with her teeth and curtsying as far as she could in her blue smock.m
“Oh, I shall gladly hither dither your highness.” A slightly smaller girl replied. Her long blonde curls dancing atop a burgundy dress. Looking just as inebriated as the brunette.
“I say,” the first girl cried out once more. Reaching for a glass of cognac on one of the many trays moving in a continuous spectrum. “My husband Georgio Moffatt Douglas Endlebert III would never stand for this! Diana, he says - for that is my name, only the souls of the purest animal shall enter my gullet!”
“And what animal my that be?”
“Only the purest Unicorns from the richest mountains lined in gold!”
The night ended quickly after this strange encounter of course. The girls were quickly ushered out of the way and Jerry was told to move on to another part of the house before more guests arrived.
It would be months before he saw her again; Diana. But, he would never forget first seeing her that day for she had a life full of the one thing he wanted most in the world; absolute freedom.