Its several months since Blue dropped out of college and hit the road. He spent a lot of time drawing circles on maps and looking for the perfect area he could afford. He knew he couldn’t go too rural.
His money would buy him a bigger place but he knew he needed to be somewhere close to a population wealthy enough to want private yoga classes and to pay for his baked goods and have markets. But it needed to not be so popular that the markets had huge waiting lists. He needed somewhere on the up. Then he got lucky.
Blue has had the sort of luck Blue makes. He found a farm on the edge of one of his circles that had a sign up for harvest workers, one of the workers recognized Blue as soon as he approached the farmer, gave him a wave, ran over and vouched for Blue. He’d done a few stints at farms near Blue’s home. Blue was shocked that a thousand miles from his tiny home someone recognized him but he took it as a good sign.
The pay was poor it kept him active, covered his few expenses and gave him local contacts. The physical work soon took care of his stress and he began the process of forgetting his former life. He called Cheryl to let her know he was settled and she begged him to call his mom but he couldn’t.
For the first week Blue stayed in a motel, concerned about costs but it felt safe enough. Then he had another stroke of Blue luck. He was behind an elderly lady in the grocery store and offered to help her with her bags, they chatted away on the walk to her house. Seeing her lawn was in need of cutting he offered to do it there and then and several jobs and glasses of iced tea later Blue moved in to Gladys’s spare room. She appreciated the company and the extra cash.
Blue worked long hours on the farm and spent his day off doing odd jobs and cooking at home. He baked cakes and cookies for Gladys to take to her weekly social events. He knew he was planting the seeds for future money making opportunities. Gladys loved to show off her adopted grandson’s gifts and told everyone in town about him.
The house sale at college was progressing. He had expected Spence or Gervais to put in bids and Gervais did, but he accepted slightly less from a family. Blue has mixed feelings about Gervais and didn’t want to take his money, didn’t want the reminder when he found a place for himself that it was paid for by Gervais. The family asked for extra time for inspections, despite it being a new home and Blue agreed as his realtor told him the job the family were moving for had been pushed back. Blue was happy to agree as he felt they were the right people for the house.
Blue isn’t mad at Gervais for sleeping with Spence, he was free to be with whoever he wanted and Blue had been with Spence himself, he knew for Gervais it would have been just s. It was a shock for sure but for Blue not unforgivable.
It was Spence’s betrayal that had been the final cut. That he had asked Blue to not be with Will and had not relented of his own accord even when it was obvious that Blue and Will could have been something hurt enough on its own but for him to go after Gervais and Blue knows it would have been Spence who suggested it. Well it was too much, too hurtful and just showed that Blue meant nothing to his friends. They all expected so much of him and gave so little in return.
He had a lot of time to think on the drive and he spent a lot of time angry. Angry that he has been the one to concede every time he’s been wronged. That only DeShawn and Gervais came to him after he broke up with Birch. That Bea thought that a plant made up for poisoning his relationship with their mother further. That Andy thought they could step back to what they were and plan their futures together. All of it made him sick.
But he let go. He let go of the hold they all had over him. Blue the lonely boy so desperate for friends and sex that he let them treat him so badly. That he surrounded himself with people that took advantage was on him and he could have stepped away long before. Should have.
He knows he’s a soft touch, that his friend’s difficult lives had him make allowances. But that he was alone for his own problems showed him how much he needed to step away. He knows he got better at detaching but anytime he held a grudge he was eventually berated for being the unreasonable one. If he had never made up with Gervais he wouldn’t have been hurt more. If he had kept Spence and Andy at bay he wouldn’t feel like such a chump.
As he replayed every instance in his head he felt better and better about leaving and on the farm he was finally able to let it all go. To be ready for his new start.
As the weather gets colder the work at the farm reduced and some of the guys moved on of their own accord and others were asked to go, the farmer kept Blue and two others to the end. The farmer likes Blue and he was useful due to his strength, tenacity and lack of complaints. Also the farmer has a soft spot for Gladys and wanted this quiet young man to stay with her as long as possible.
“Look I know you’re doing a grand job watching out for Gladys. Would you consider two days a week here over the winter? There’s plenty of maintenance work, my sons are both at college so I struggle a little but can’t afford anyone fulltime.
“Two days would be perfect. I’m pretty sure Gladys has a list of friends who need things doing and I have projects of my own to get on with.” Blue says.
“Just don’t tell the others. The 4 that are left have worked here year on year and I don’t want any of them soured.” The farmer Mike says.
“Mike I wouldn’t dream of it. If you like I could go for this week and then come back when they’re done. I need to make a trip so it would work out for me.” Blue says.
“Perfect. You are quite the diplomat. You’ve been a good worker too.” Mike says.
“I’ve loved every backbreaking minute.” Blue grins.
“Good.” Mike says.
“What is the handyman situation in town? I don’t want to tread on any toes.” Blue asks.
“For the old ladies? You go for it. There have been a few rogues blow through who have ripped them off and they’re all a bit wary. The high school kids do a lot of lawn and yard work but even though they’re kids their rates are often too high for the likes of Gladys and her circle. Give em a deal for cash and everyone will turn a blind eye.” Mike says.
“Thanks. I hoped that would be it. Gladys told me of some guy who was supposed to clean the gutters and made them worse. She said she chased him away but some of her friends paid him.” Blue says and goes home feeling good.
“That smells so good.” Gladys says coming in from one of her social events.
“I made squash risotto. Mike gave me a bunch of misshapen ones that he won’t sell, so we’ll be eating a lot of squash.” Blue says.
“Young man you cook far too well for a boy your age.” Gladys says.
“I need to go away for a few days. I’ve made some meals for the freezer. Can you water my plants while I’m gone?” Blue asks. He’s not sure why he brought the plants his siblings gave him, he didn’t want reminders of home but he feels like they can be the start of something. He needs to remember he’s one of three and not an only, even if he never speaks to them again.
“Ahh you didn’t need to do that. I always managed alone before.” Gladys grins delighted.
“Yeah, yeah, canned soup and grilled cheese and sometimes your hands were too bad to open the soup.” Blue says with a smile. They have this conversation many times a week. Loving that the other cares so much.
“I didn’t say I wasn’t thankful. Something sweet is on the go too.” Gladys says sniffing the air.
“Honey cakes for you to take tomorrow. They keep well in a tin if you want to keep some back for yourself.” Blue says.
“Now much as I love having you here I think I know of just the place for you. Abigail who comes to my book club. Her sister died a few months ago and Abby inherited her place. She is too old to deal with it herself and has been trying to sell but all the offers she had were from developers and it didn’t sit right with her that the house would be torn down. It’s got a few acres, long in disrepair, Abby is 90 if she’s a day and her sister was older.
Ran a farm with her husband and passed it on to the kids when her husband died, keeping the main house, kitchen garden and a field or two. Of course the kids broke her heart and sold the farm and left town barely not calling but once a month, she had the last laugh passing it all to Abby. The land that is left is worth a lot more than they sold the farm for 30 years ago and they expected a second bite.” Gladys says.
“Sounds perfect but out of my price range.” Blue says.
“Boy I am telling you, if you tell Ab your plans and she likes them then she’ll take what you offer.” Gladys says.
“I don’t want to rip her off.” Blue says firmly.
“You think about it when you’re on your trip. Abby likes your cookies with the banana goop in, says they don’t need any work from her remaining teeth.” Gladys says.
“I’ll make them up after dinner. If I put them on the cookie sheet in the fridge you just have to bake them when you need them.” Blue grins. He’s excited at the prospect but wary, he doesn’t want some descendants turning up and suing him later.
The following morning Blue sets off early to drive back to his college city. He’s wary but happy the house sale will be tied up and he can really and truly move on.
He thinks about Abby’s place over and over on the drive and it feels too good to be true. He’s had so much good fortune since he left college that he feels like he’s in a dream and might wake from a coma any second. It feels like finally luck is in. He doesn’t think he’s owed all this good luck, not at all but it is wonderful to have had a string of good luck for once.
Blue would never think that anything was a reward for his giving nature but it is. He got the job on the farm because he was always nice to people in the café at home whether they lived their year round or were visiting for a week. He had a reputation as a hard worker and it paid off.
He has a room with Gladys because he wouldn’t dream of letting an old lady struggle. She saw he was a good soul straight away and knows her trust wasn’t misplaced. Gladys has always been the sort to match make, not always in the romantic sense but she can put workers into jobs, friendships together and put people on track, she’s very like Clara that way. She’s spent weeks asking about properties for Blue, having clean forgot Abby had a place for sale. Once she saw Abby she knew it would be perfect and won’t rest until he’s in there.
Wanting Blue to be happy and on track is Gladys mission.
Blue spends the night in a motel out of the city. For the first time since he moved in with Gladys he feels lonely. He watches TV but can’t follow what is going on. He goes back to a book he’s been reading but the words run together so he gives up and goes to sleep.
The following day he gets all the paperwork done efficiently, there were no issues with the final inspection and he’ll soon have his money. He feels relieved and sad and a little guilty that he’s taking his momma’s money like this. Still he’s saving her two years tuition Blue giggles to himself.
He stops in at Cheryls and gets the biggest hug.
“I didn’t expect you. My goodness you look well.” Cheryl says.
“So do you. Does Ocean have gymnastics today or can I go pick him up from school?” Blue asks.
“I’ll call the sitter and cancel. He’ll be overjoyed. He misses you terribly.” Cheryl says.
“What his other big brothers not enough?” Blue laughs.
“Come on lets have some cake and a chat while it’s quiet. You’ve been far too evasive in your calls.” Cheryl says.
“I don’t want to give too much away so I don’t put you in a difficult position with momma.” Blue says.
“Have you still not called her?” Cheryl asks.
“No. I needed a clean break. Has she pressured you?” Blue asks.
“She hasn’t asked about you once. I hate telling you that, but it’s true. Roe has called me every week asking for news and I do tell her what I know. I don’t know if she passes it on but I don’t think so.” Cheryl says and tears prick Blue’s eyes.
“I knew she’d shut me out. She has Chris and the others now. For all she did trying to make things up to me with the houses when she was here in august she spent most of her time with Andy and Chris even though she’d been with them all summer. I’ve been replaced.” Blue shrugs.
“I’m sure she’s just too upset to talk and likely embarrassed to ask me as it’s like you’ve chosen me over her.” Cheryl says.
“I guess I have. You never judge me and are easier to be around. She tells everyone how difficult I am to like and sometimes it’s too much to take, especially when it’s Bea and Chris she says it to.” Blue says.
“Willow told me and I was shocked. I had no idea it had become that bad between the two of you. I thought things were on the up. She’s a fool. You must know that. If she won’t put you first that is all on her.” Cheryl says.
“I know, that’s why I’m done. I’m doing okay. Gladys who I live with is amazing. She’s a lot like momma but without the bitch streak.” Blue laughs.
“Well I was so relieved when you told me you were living with her. I was worried about you being alone.” Cheryl says.
“I was relieved too. It’s cheaper and safer than the motel and I love having someone to cook and bake for, even if it is an 86 year old woman and not a fit 22 year old man.” Blue grins.
“No news from Will?” Cheryl asks.
“I’ve not been in touch. I screwed that one up and I’m too far away to do anything about it.” Blue sighs.
“Will you see Robin or Gervais while you’re here?” Cheryl asks.
“No. I needed a clean break. Please don’t tip them off.” Blue says.
“I wouldn’t dream of it.” Cheryl laughs.
“It’s not Gervais cooking lesson day or anything is it?” Blue asks nervous all of a sudden.
“No, stop being paranoid. Go get my son. I’ll call school to let them know but he’ll be so excited to see you he won’t let them stop him leaving with you.” Cheryl grins and Blue heads out.
Cheryl is happy for Blue and worried. He seems to have fallen on his feet. He’s a hard worker he should have known he would. She smiles to herself at the thought of Blue carrying groceries and charming his way into a room. It’s a good job he has such a good heart, he could be a terrifying con man.
Ocean blinks 3 times as Blue gets out of his car and then runs so fast his teacher is worried he’ll go straight into the road. Blue is ready for him as he launches himself on to Blue and clings to him crying. The tears are unexpected, he’s not been gone that long. He gently puts Ocean into the car and climbs in himself.
“I thought you were gone forever.” Ocean wails.
“I’m only back for today. Your mom said you didn’t have gymnastics tonight so I could come and get you.” Blue says.
“Are you staying over? We could make banana pancakes for breakfast.” Ocean says.
“We’ll see. Tell me all about you, what’s happening at gymnastics? Did you get a new yoga teacher?” Blue asks and is soothed as Ocean chatters on about his life.
Ocean sticks to Blue like glue from the second they get out the car, clinging to him in case he leaves. It’s the first time Blue is unsure he’s doing the right thing. Ocean means the world to him and he hates the thought that he’s hurting him.
Ocean drags Blue to a booth and sits in his lap playing with his ears and hair. Blue grins at Cheryl helplessly. She brings over Oceans after school snack and reminds him about homework. Blue gives him a hand and they are soon engrossed and don’t notice Gervais come in.
Cheryl rushes over to Blue.
“You said you wouldn’t tell.” Blue hisses.
“I didn’t.” Cheryl says putting her hand on Blue’s shoulder to stop him running off. Ocean wouldn’t be able to take it.
Gervais stares in shock.