The 12:15 United Flight from Seattle to Des Moines: The Story Continues
Thanks for Returning
I’m glad you are still with me. William Dale and Sarah with an “h” are in Olympia, Washington, trying to learn more about agritourism in order to save the family farm back in Iowa. When the last chapter ended, they had arrived at the farm owned by Sheila and Bill Hollis, and they were a bit surprised to learn that their hosts knew quite a bit more about them than was possible to know.
Shall we continue?
When the Impossible Becomes Reality
It really wasn’t possible for Sheila to know the names of my mother, my sister and our unborn child. Oh sure, we live in the Internet Age, and with a little research Sheila might have discovered the names of Mom and Jeannie, but our child? We settled on the name “Heather” during the train trip from Iowa to Olympia and we had told no one. So how, exactly, did Sheila know? I asked her that very question.
“I realize, William Dale, Sarah, that it seems impossible for me to know the name of your child, but trust me when I tell you it is not impossible at all because, well, love alters reality. We have known about you for quite some time now, and we’ve been looking forward to your visit. It really was just a matter of time. You’ve been struggling on that farm of yours, what with the dropping corn prices and governmental regulations that are strangling the life out of you, so looking at alternatives was your next logical step. Once Sarah saw that magazine article about our farm while sitting in the “Cut and Tuck” getting her hair done, it was just a matter of time before you visited us.”
“But you didn’t answer my question, Sheila,” I said. “How could you possibly know any of that?”
“William Dale, I did answer your question, but perhaps you were not listening closely. Love alters reality. Now come, both of you. Let’s eat a meal together. Our extended family is waiting in the dining room and we have a lovely meal of foods from our farm. Come, let us get to know each other better.”
We followed our hosts into the old farmhouse. Seated at the table in the dining room were five people. They all smiled and rose from their seats as we entered. Sheila handled introductions.
“William Dale, Sarah, from left to right may I introduce you to our daughter, Astarte, our granddaughter, Hope, our dear friends, Pauline and Tweetie and Tweetie’s daughter, Bij-Ari. All of you, please say hello to our new best friends from Iowa, William Dale and Sarah and of course, their soon-to-be daughter, Heather.”
We were greeted with hugs from all, a welcoming, really, unlike any I had experienced. There was no hesitation, no awkwardness, none of the social restraints usually associated with a first-meeting. It was as though we were known intimately by our hosts, cherished members of a family we did not know. Astarte and Hope were stunning in their beauty and both exhibited the same gentleness of spirit as Sheila. Tweetie was six-foot, five-inches at least, a scarecrow of a man with purple hair wearing a kilt, and his smile was infectious. Pauline had pink hair, a fireplug of a woman with a cherub’s face, and Bij-Ari a statuesque beauty covered in tats of various animals, the most prominent of which was an eagle on her chest with wings spread across her bare shoulders.
We learned about them all and Sheila told us if we needed to know more we could read the book her husband, Bill, wrote entitled “The 12/59 Shuttle From Yesterday to Today.”
“I think you’ll find the book fascinating,” she said. “But you aren’t here to read books. You’re here to learn how to change your farm into a thriving enterprise. Eat up and then we’ll go for a walking tour of our acreage.”
After the Meal
The meal was delicious and the company entertaining, to say the least. Tweetie held court with a rambling discussion of global warming and saving the environment. His arguments and proofs, including testimony about the mating rituals of the African Chickadee, were bizarre but also spellbinding. We learned that Bill Hollis had, at one time, been a United States Senator and that Hope, a budding young woman of fourteen, was gaining a sizable following for her new church-slash-religion based upon the principle of Love. By the time the meal had ended I was spinning intellectually and emotionally, and I sensed the same of Sarah.
“Leave the dishes,” Sheila told us. “Let’s go for a walkabout.”
Their farm was a feast for the eyes and imagination. There were four greenhouses, wind-turbines, solar panels, fruit stands for the public, classrooms in the two barns, a residential building where visiting writers and other artists could stay, a petting zoo for children and of course, many acres of plowed fields awaiting planting.
“We are completely self-sustaining here,” Bill Hollis told us. “Our carbon footprint is practically non-existent, and all surplus that is not sold is donated to various homeless shelters in the area. Using techniques developed by Tweetie and Pauline, we were making a modest profit after the first year. Now, well, we do quite well.”
“And so shall you,” chimed in Sheila. She held a ladybug in her palm and held it up for us to see.
“This little lady is Delilah,” Sheila continued. “She’s been with us for several years now and really, she symbolizes our philosophy on the farm, namely that all living things are important and all have value in the grand circle of life. We can teach you the X’s and O’s of agritourism, but the most important lesson you need to leave here with is that with love, all things are possible. And that is why, William and Sarah, you will do well in Iowa. There is love in your family, and as long as that love remains, you will never fail. Now, William, why don’t you walk around with Tweetie, Bill and Pauline. They will teach you what you need to know. Sarah, I want you to come with me. You and I shall talk about your daughter Heather.”
The Final Lesson
Sheila took Sarah by the hand and together they walked to a small pond several hundred yards from the farmhouse. There they both sat upon the sandy shoreline. For several moments Sheila looked deeply into Sarah’s eyes.
“Sarah,” she began. “Your daughter, as her name suggests, will grow well among barren and rocky soil. She will be a woman of principles and simplicity. She will not tolerate deceit or pretence. She will be most comfortable in nature and will love spending time with animals, which she will see as the most honest creatures on the planet.
“Do not worry about her, Sarah. She will be surrounded by your love and that is all she will need. Give her free rein and allow her to run with the wind. She is the future of your family and she will make you proud, but she is also, in a very real sense, the symbol of our next generation.”
Sarah squeezed Sheila’s hand. “How do you know this?”
“It is not important, Sarah. One day I will tell you all about it. Yes, we will see each other again. Our grandchild, Hope, will eventually become Heather’s mentor. They both have important work to do, so in a couple years you can expect us to pay you a visit in Iowa. Until then, raise your child with love. That is all that is important, my dear. Raise her with love.”
Two Days Later
At 12:15 on a Wednesday in January our flight lifted off from SeaTac Airport heading east for Iowa. As we settled in for the three hours flight, Sarah took my hand and placed it on her stomach.
“She’s kicking, Sugar. She wants out badly. She wants to run with the wind and embrace all that life has to offer. And we’re going to support her every step of the way and love the shit out of this child. Do you hear me William Dale?”
As an exclamation point, Heather kicked my hand. I looked at Sarah, a woman perfect in her imperfections, the mother of our child and the love of my previously meaningless life.
I kissed her.
“I hear you, Sarah.”
To Be Continued
I hope you don’t mind, but I feel a few more chapters in me, so stay tuned and William, Sarah, and all the other characters will return soon.
I love the freedom fiction gives me. It seemed only natural that William Dale and Sarah would meet characters from my very first novel. I hope you approve of my choice.
2016 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)