The Farmhouse

by on February 28th, 2011
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Smoothing the fine grain wood of the windowsill with her well-wrinkled hands she glanced out the window. The majestic maple that towered over the house had turned a brilliant yellow, with but a few hints of green leftover from the long, hot summer. The golden hue brightened the room and gave Marta a hint of a smile. She turned her attention to the small wooden sign she had placed on the sill that said simply “Welcome Autumn”. But did she truly welcome the changing of the season?

Summer had been long and hot.Even though the stately, 2-story farmhouse had air conditioning, and a cupola to let out the hot air, it was little comfort in the 30 plus days of scorching temperatures. Shel felt like a prisoner in her own home, unable to step outside and enjoy the fresh air, forced to spend the time indoors. She passed the time quilting, watching TV, reading – and sometimes boredom pressed upon her unrelenting.

She thought she would love fall, with the bright foliage and crispness in the air. But fall was also the scent of dead leaves, and the onset of a long, cold winter. Marta had spent the past few winters holed up in her house, the roads were far too treacherous to drive on, and she had all but given up driving years ago. She had been single all her life, so she only could depend on friends to come by and take her where she needed to go, and she didn’t want to impose on them too much.

With a heavy sigh, Marta settled down in her favorite spot on the couch, with Chester, her 8 year old orange tabby, settling in comfortably on her lap. She sat there gently stroking his fur, when she heard a steady ‘drip drip’ from the kitchen. She looked over to the pantry, spanned the table in the middle with the sturdy wooden chairs, then rested her eyes upon the stainless steel sink. That was the culprit, the faucet was leaking. It was just another project to add to the laundry list of things that needed to be fixed around the house. Her leaves needed raking, the wiring needed to be fixed in the spare bedroom, and she heard rustlings in the attic, that she was sure was either mice or bats. She wasn’t able to take care of these things herself, she knew she needed to hire a handyman.

Computers were something foreign to her, so she leafed through the newspaper classifieds, hoping someone would understand that not everyone is technologically savvy, and would advertise the good old fashioned way.She pulled out the paper and began scouring the classifieds. That’s when she struck paydirt, there, in the middle of the classifieds was the ad: “HANDYMAN: will do anything you need around the house and yard. Reasonable rates. Call Brett at 715-264-7711.” Reasonable rates sounded good to her, so she picked up the phone and dialed his number. After 3 rings, he answered.

“Hello”

“Hello, is this Brett the handyman?”

He chuckled a little before answering, “I sure am. What can I do for you?”

“Well, this is Marta Grissom, I live off County Road G in Harrisonville and I could really use a handyman. What are your rates?”

“Wait, you live off County G? I thought that was strictly farmland out there.”

“Well, it is, mostly. I used to own an apple orchard, maybe you’ve heard of it, Harvest Valley Orchard?”

“Harvest Valley..you own that? I’ve been out there a couple times. You have amazing baked goods, and your apples are fantastic. When did you close down?”

“Oh, maybe 15 years ago by now. My parents had owned the place, then I ran it for a while, but it just got to be too much.Listen, I really do need a handyman for year round. I’m getting up there in years and just need someone to help with leaky faucets, leaves that need raking, some electrical work, that kind of stuff. “

“I would be happy to help you. Like I said in my ad, my rates are reasonable. For the projects you mentioned, I’m sure $20 will be more than enough to cover it. I’m retired, and just want some odd jobs to keep me busy. Retirement is boring!”

“You’re retired?” Marta pondered how old Brett really was.

“Yes, for about 10 years now. When would you like me to come out and take a look?”

“How about Saturday around 10 am?”

“Sounds great. I know where you are, so I don’t need directions. See you then.”

‘All right. Bye”

“Bye”

She hung up the phone and went back to giving Chester attention. She looked into his yellow-green eyes and said “What do you think, Chester? Do you think having a man around the house will be a good thing?” Chester meowed a reply and curled up on her lap again, purring himself to sleep.

Saturday morning Marta woke earlier than usual. She didn’t get very many visitors out here, and she wanted to be sure to look her best for Brett. She had dated on and off over the years, mostly off. Each guy seemed to have something that just bothered her, and after a while she just stopped dating. Now she was too old to get back into the dating scene. She wouldn’t even know how, since she didn’t have a computer and didn’t meet single men anymore. Then her thoughts turned back to Brett. She wondered how old he was, if he retired 10 years ago he was probably in his late 60’s, and she was already 76 – that would still be a pretty large age difference. Then she tried to reason with herself, he was here to fix things, not to date.

Marta was in the middle of dusting the mantel when she heard a knock on the door. She went to open it. There stood Brett, maybe 6′ tall with white, full hair that fell in gentle waves across his head. He had gentle, sparkling blue eyes and a soft, white mustache. He wore a plaid shirt and jeans, and was carrying a brown paper bag.

“Hello there, are you Marta?”

She immediately felt self-conscious, her sweater was old and piling, her cotton pants were unflattering, her gray hair was short and bristly, and her glasses were at least 3 years out of date.

“Why, yes, I am. You must be Brett.”

“At your service.” He quipped, with a slight bow. Marta could feel heat rushing to her cheeks. She quickly opened the door wider and said “It would be best to start with the faucet. The constant dripping is driving me crazy.”

He slowly nodded as she led him to the sink, where he immediately went to work, pulling a wrench out of the paper bag he brought. She pulled up a kitchen chair to watch him.

“So, tell me about yourself.” Brett said in between grunts trying to get the piping loose.

“What do you want to know?”

“Well, for starters, what is a good looking gal like you rumbling around this big old house all alone? Are you a widow?”

Again, she felt the heat rushing to her cheeks. “No, I have never married. When I was younger I was so involved in missions and book clubs that I never really had that much of a chance to meet anyone. I went on some dates, but there was always something that I really didn’t like about the guy. As I got older, I never wanted to try that Internet dating thing. I guess I just became content being single.”

He paused to look at her with his sparkling blue eyes. “Sounds a little lonely.” She shrugged her shoulders. “Sometimes it is, but sometimes married people get lonely too.”

“That’s true.” Brett went back to wrenching on his pipe. “I was married for about 20 years. Married a gal I met in the office, when I worked for a real estate agent. I wouldn’t say she was my soul-mate, but we were happy together. Had two kids, girl Sally and boy Ephram. Both are grown, have families of their own. Sally is in WA and Ephram in AK. I don’t see them much. My wife passed away 15 years ago, car accident. But I haven’t really dated since.”

“Why not?” asked Marta, pondering this intense man before her.

He smiled at her “Haven’t found the right woman yet.” He wiped his hands on his pants, slid the wrench back in the bag and continued. “Well, my dear Marta, I am at your beck and call. How can I be of service next?” She pulled out the other chair at the table, smiling and said “Why don’t you sit and we can have some tea. We can chat a little while.” She arose to put a pot of hot water on the stove. He grinned from ear to ear, knowing he had found someone who could fill the loneliness in his own heart. “I thought you’d never ask.”


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