Home from the War...
In February 1969, I came home from Vietnam to a Country that did not want anything to do with the men and women who had gone to war. The politics of the Vietnam War meant nothing to most of the men who went to war. Their Country called and they answered.
Now I was home, I only had one real direction. I knew that I wanted to go to college. I had graduated from High School with barely a 2.0 average and in 1965 that was not good enough to get into any college. By 1969, Junior Colleges had become wide spread across the Mid West. They were said to be a way of getting further education in a trade or the start to a profession. It was for me, a means of cleaning up my act and starting to pursue my dream of a career in Marine Biology.
I knew that I would be able to get help to go to College by using the GI Bill to pay for a good part of my education and as long as I got good grades, it would pay for most if not all of a four year degree. But first I had to get through a two year degree program and get my grades up so that I could be accepted into a Major University to go after a Degree in Marine Biology.
I settled down to working at what ever jobs were available to earn money for school. I had seven months to put money away and get ready to go to school.
My first job was a beef lugger in a Kosher Packing house, that was a man killer. It was also the highest paying job I could find at $4.25 and hour to start, it was double what any other jobs were paying back then. When I went to apply, I could almost see the Personnel Director drool. I was in the best shape of my life at six-five and two hundred seventeen pounds. He saw me as an answer to his prayers. The best lugger they had working, had passed away two days before of a massive heart attack, while working. He collapsed on the loading dock with a hundred and ninety pounds of beef on his shoulder. They needed someone big and strong and it looked like I was it.
For the next seven months it was up at 0500 hrs, in to work at 0600. I'd work one or two shifts, depending on how many beef had been processed the previous day. Most days seemed to end around 1500 to 1600 in the afternoon. By then it was all I could do to drag my sorry butt to the "Y," and soak in their hot whirlpool tub for an hour or so. For the first two or three weeks I was dragging myself home and collapsing in bed. My diet was mostly catch as catch can. Somehow, I'd manage to roll out at 0500 the next morning.
When you are young, your body gets into condition rapidly. It wasn't very long 'till I could walk out of the Packing House after work, and go with some of the guys for a beer at the local tavern. Time seemed to be heavy on my hands. I wanted to be away at school getting on with my life, but I considered what I was doing a necessary path to reach my goals.
While I was working I received notice from a small Junior College that was only in its second year of operation that I had been accepted, and to report for classes in the Fall. I could hardly wait. I had six months to go. I settled down to work, and to getting myself mentally prepared to study. I had never been much of a student in High School.
Before I knew it, it was time to leave for school.
Living off campus...
I left for school from my home in western Iowa and headed east to the small central Iowa Community College that was to be my home for the next two years. It was Wednesday when I arrived, I was assigned a room in the new men's dorm on the second floor. My new room mate arrived the next day. He was also a Vietnam Vet and it turned out that we were shirt tail relations. He was a son of a long lost cousin of my Grandpa. We hit it off pretty well from the beginning. I arrived a couple of days early, so I could learn my job that had been set up for me, to help pay some of my schooling costs. This would help the money I had saved before coming to school to last longer. I found out that my roommate had the same arrangement, and we only had to wait over the weekend for the Food Service to open the following Monday. We had to get through the weekend and then we would be able to get in to a normal routine.
We settled in to enjoy the weekend and decided to go out and scout out the town on Friday night. We went out and had a couple of beers and headed back to the dorm early. When we arrived, we found the floor was jumping with drunk teenaged football players. The team had been on campus for a couple of weeks longer than we had, and had gotten into the routine of practicing and getting tutored for classes that they would be having during the week and then tying one on over the weekends. Seems that most of them had been recruited for their playing skills and not so much for their academic skills.
After listening and hardly sleeping because of the noise all weekend, I decided that I couldn't live under those conditions very long. Monday morning, bright and early, found me in front of the desk of the lady in charge of housing.
After telling her of our experiences of the past weekend. I asked her what alternative arrangements were available for off campus housing. I still wanted to be able to work my job in the food service, but I knew that I couldn't survive the dorm life. Marine Barracks were tame and quiet compared to the chaos of a bunch of young males away from Mommy and Daddy for the first time in their lives.
Suzy, (the lady in charge of housing) and I had met the previous Wednesday, when I had come to campus. I guess I must have made a good impression. She was smiling and giggling at almost everything I said even when it wasn't funny.
"Tom, I think, I have just what you are looking for. Just this past Friday a very nice older lady came to the office looking for a possible roomer for her house. It seems that her previous tenant passed away a month or so a go. Now she was looking for a younger person to have the room. She specifically asked for an older more mature male student. She didn't want me to post the listing on the board, but to just send likely gentlemen over to meet her, she felt that her advanced age might be a hindrance for some," she said.
"Would it bother you to rent a room in a house with an older lady?" Suzy asked.
"I don't think so, how old is she?
"I don't really know. She was very nice looking and very tall, my guess, is that she is close to sixty years old."
"I don't think that would be a problem. I was raised by my Grandma and Grandpa. Being around older people has never been an issue for me. I enjoyed being around them sometimes. You can actually learn something." I laughed.
"Her name is Emma, here is her address."
Suzy wrote it down and handed it to me.
"How much is she asking for rent, for the room?" I asked her.
"Well, that is the best part, she only wants $5.00 a week." She told me that she wants to have someone in the house in case she falls or needs assistance. She doesn't have any close family and with out some one living there with her, She's afraid to be alone too much. Her husband passed away 10 years ago and an elderly lady friend moved in shortly after his death and she is the one who passed away last month. She has never really been completely alone for very long," she told me.
I decided to go right away and meet this lady. $5.00 a week for a room would really help me stretch my limited dollars. I could eat for free at the food service on the days that I worked. If I was going to live off campus, I would now have to figure out how to eat the other meals on my own because I would not be staying in the dorm any longer.
I drove around for awhile, her house was not easy to find. I went down the street to a cul-de-sac. I looked around for the address and didn't see a house with that number anywhere, the numbers seemed to skip over the one that I was looking for. As I was driving around the circle for about the 3rd time, I noticed a lane along the side of one yard past one of the houses. It was just a pair of gravel paths that ran parallel back into some trees. There was no sign or other indication of where the lane went. I decided to take a chance and go down the lane on foot to see where it went. I parked the car and started walking down the lane and very soon I was walking through a tunnel of trees with ferns at the bases and the scent of water and moss all around, it was cool and a light dappled shade suffused the morning light. I walked along for about a ¼ mile and then the trees started to thin out and I came to the edge of a beautifully manicured lawn and dozens of flower beds all scattered randomly about the grounds. I kept walking and came around a gentle bend in the road and came upon a beautiful white gazebo. I stood there looking at it and then past it to a beautiful large white southern style mansion. There were soaring white columns and a wide veranda. There were a pair of white rocking chairs sitting on the porch.
"May I help you, young man?" I heard a voice ask me. I looked around and didn't see any one.
"Over here." The voice said. I looked in the direction the voice came from and just down below the edge of the Gazebo floor along the edge to the right I saw a woman down on her hands and knees working in the flower bed.
"May I help you? The lady asked me for the second time.
"Yes, I am looking for a lady named Emma." I told her.
"I am Emma." She told me. With that, she rose to her feet very gracefully She walked toward me across the grass. She extended her hand. "Good Morning, how can I help you?"
I stood there staring at her, she was beautiful. Tall, slender as a reed, with an absolutely glowing halo of the most beautiful silver hair. It framed her face like a cowl. Her face was the most lovely pale alabaster, flawless skin, Her eyes were deep emerald green. Her eyelashes and eyebrows were almost white. She was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen.
"Are you all right young man? She asked me. That seemed to snap me out of my daze that I was in. "Oh' yes, Suzy at the College sent me over to talk to you about a room you have for rent." I replied.
"Oh' good, that didn't take long. I was so hoping that someone would come. Did you walk from the College?" She asked me.
"No, I left my car on the street, I didn't know where the lane went to and didn't want to get back in here and not be able to turn around."
"Well as you see there is plenty of room here, why don't you go back and get your car and come back and park around behind the house. In the mean time, I will make us some refreshments and we can visit. When you come back, just come around the back of the house and I will have everything ready."
I went and did as I was told. I drove around the back and parked. There was a large flagstone patio coming off the back of the house, with three pair of french doors that were open to the inside facing east toward a spectacular view of the river, the house was set up on the edge of a bluff, about eighty or so feet above the water. The river was wide and you could see the forest coming down to the rivers edge on the other side. It was so tranquil and calming to watch the water flow. I stood for a moment taking it all in. Emma, was sitting at a glass table.
"Come, sit down here so we can get acquainted. Are you Tom?" she asked me.
"Why yes, how did you know?" I asked.
"I called Suzy and told her that a very nice young man had come by and she told me all about you. You seem to have made a friend there. You come highly recommended," she said.
"I wonder how that could be? I only met her last week," I said.
"Well, not to worry, I've known Suzy since she was six, and she is a very good judge of character."
"I'm here to see about the room."
I went on to tell her about my first few days in the dorm and why I didn't think I could survive with all the young men and their drinking and carousing at all hours. I told her about where I grew up and my time in the Marines and Vietnam, and my goals to be a Marine Biologist.
Emma, listened to me quietly. When I was through, she asked me if I would like to see the room. I told her yes, and we went inside through the center french door onto a huge parquet wood floor.
"This is the ballroom," she said.
We went into the center of the house and there were a pair of beautiful sweeping staircases leading to the second level. Every where I looked there was evidence of extreme wealth. We went toward the back of the second level and entered a room off the hall to the left that had windows that looked out over the back patio and the river below.
"Tom, this would be your room if you would like it." Emma said. I looked around and was amazed at what I saw. It was huge, with marble floors and old antique furnishings in dark oak wood. I only knew a little about furniture, but it was easy to see that these were all real Gustov Stickley Mission Style furnishings.
There was a large bed, dressers and side tables. A huge settee and an even larger couch. There were two rockers and a Morris Chair with wine red leather. Off to the side was a door that led to a large marble bathroom. All the fixtures were original from the early 20's and all were in perfect condition.
I looked at Emma and said. I can't afford this. I came because the rent was supposed to be five bucks a week. This room is too much.
"Tom, Tom, it is five dollars a week. I have to charge something. I don't really need the money. I just want some one here in the house coming and going. When Suzy described you, I knew that if you were as she described, you would be perfect. Please take it. I would love to have you live here. Please?"
I was starting to get a feeling that all was not as it seemed.
I said, "Let's go back down. I think there is something you are not telling me and I would like to know what it is, before I commit to anything."
Emma turned and I followed her out of the room and down the back stairs. We went back out onto the patio and resumed our seats at the table.
"Emma, I love the room and I love the setting that the house is in. It's like we are in the country and yet we are right in the middle of town. Why is it so important that I take the room and not someone else?"
She sat and fidgeted for a while, her face took on a look of extreme anguish and a tear rolled down her cheek. Finally she spoke.
"Tom, you are going to think I am a silly old woman." She said.
"Please, go on Emma. I would like to know. I promise I won't think you are silly."
"When I saw you coming down the driveway, I was almost overcome with joy. For just a moment, I thought you were my husband, Einar, coming home to me. I know it is silly, but when I saw you, I almost called out to you, just as I used to do, when I would see him coming. I have been so lonely since he has been gone, when I saw you, so many pleasant memories flooded over me. When I told you to go and get your car, I ran into the house before I fell down. I felt like I was going to faint. I know you think I am a silly old woman, but you look so much like he did when he was young."
I don't know what prompted me to ask her to tell me about him, but I did.
"No, Emma, I don't think you are silly at all. Please tell me all about Einar."
Emma and Einar...
We started life in a small fishing village in Sweden. Einar and I lived next door to each other. We were both five years old when our fathers decided to move to America to get jobs working on the railroads that were being put in all across America. We had been best friends since we were born ... I was one month older than he was. We sailed to America and landed at Ellis Island. We made our way slowly to Iowa where there was need of workers on the railroad. My father had been a ship's Captain and was use to leading men. We were not here very long when he was promoted to Superintendent of the whole operation. He was very fluent in English and Swedish. Because of that and due to his having been a Captain and use to command, he moved up the chain of command rapidly. He was always a very bright business man. He was making good money and investing in many of the early developments of that time. He became good friends with the head of the railroad and received many investment tips that allowed him to prosper in this wonderful land. This house you see, was my parents. When they died, I inherited it.
Einar and I went to school together, he and his parents lived down the block at the corner house that you came by on your way here. I own that one also. This house was built when I was about 15 and we had been living right next door to Einar and his parents. When this house was completed, we moved in and my Father started renting out our first house to other immigrants newly arrived from the old Country. There was never a shortage of people needing to rent houses. My father started buying up houses shortly after that.
Einar and I grew up together. There was never a time that I didn't think that we would someday marry and be husband and wife. When we completed school, Einar went to work for my father. I stayed home to help my mother. We didn't really 'date, ' as they call it now. We were always just together. When I turned twenty, Einar asked me to marry him. Of course I said yes. We were very happy, after a couple of years it became apparent that we were not going to have children. Back then, it was just the way it was. There was no talk of adoption or any other discussion about having a baby. We went on with our lives. As we grew older, my love for Einar grew deeper. We seemed to be so right for each other. I think back now and we were like a pair of comfortable old shoes. I loved him so much. I miss him every day. Einar died in my arms from a heart attack while we were making love. He was just fifty when he died. He has been gone nine years."
As I sat and listened to Emma, I watched her face. As she talked, she was looking back and inward seeing her Einar as he had been when they were young. As she talked, tears started to softly run down her cheeks, leaving little rivers of tears on her beautiful face. I wanted to reach out to her and to hold her. I reached out and took her hand and lifted her to her feet and I took her in my arms and gently held her as she silently wept in my arms. We stood that way for a short while and then she roused and pulled back.
"Oh' Tom, what must you think of me? Blubbering like an old woman. Please forgive me."
"Emma, there is nothing to forgive. You loved him and he loved you. You must have had a beautiful life together, please don't apologize. Be thankful for the years you had together. My Grandparents have a marriage like yours was, I have always liked watching them together, it is so obvious that they love each other.
"Thank you for telling me. If you still want me to stay, I will."
Love Comes Softly...
On the way back to the dorm, my mind was in turmoil. The idea that I would have a room for such a low amount was very nice. Emma seemed very nice, too. A little eccentric, but so what? When I am fifty-nine, I will probably be eccentric too. I am sure that we will be able to get along okay. It will probably just take some getting used to. After four years in the Marine Corps, I had learned that people came in all shapes and sizes and some were better than others. Emma seemed harmless. Just lonely. For sure we could keep each other company. I was lonely, too.
I got back to the dorm and told Al, my roommate that I had found a place off campus to move to, he was happy for me. He had decided to stay in the room since now he would have it all to himself. He wouldn't have to have another room mate unless an older student showed up in the next day or two.
We went off down to the Food Service to start preparation for the evening meal. We were going to be helping the paid staff get the different dishes ready. We were going to be glorified dish washers and Sou Chefs, mostly clean up and fetch and carry. When serving started, we would man the high volume dish washer. Once the meal was completed, we would be in charge of clean up and get the room set up for the morning meal. Some days we worked together and some days separately, it depended on our class schedule.
After work, I loaded my car and drove over to Emma's house to get settled in. It was getting close to 2100 hrs when I got there. I figured that Emma would be in bed, so I left most of my stuff in the car. I just grabbed my shaving kit and over night bag and headed for bed myself. I could move the rest in, tomorrow morning after breakfast. I had kitchen privileges at Emma's, but hadn't had any time to go grocery shopping. I would have to go out and find somewhere to get a cheap breakfast in the morning on the way to class.
I went in the back entrance, there were low lights on so I had no trouble finding my way up the back stairs from the kitchen to my room. I was just settling in to a warm tub and starting to relax. When I heard a soft knocking.
"Tom, do you have everything you need for the night?" Emma asked.
"Yes, Emma, I'm good. Thanks for asking. Good night, Emma."
"Good night, Tom."
I heard the soft shuffle of Emma's slippers on the hard marble floor as she went down the hall to her room.
Soon, the house was quiet and the warm summer breeze was blowing through the trees. The scent of the river wafted up into my room. It smelled like home. My Grandpa's farm was along the Little Sioux River. I used to love the smell of it. I spent many hours along its banks fishing for supper. Good old Channel Cats, Bull Heads and Blue Gills. I would have to check tomorrow and see if there was a path down the bluff to the river bank. I'd go fishing as soon as I could get my stuff moved in and dig some worms. I started to drift off in the warm water, but soon woke up as the water cooled.
Time for bed. I made my way to bed, I sleep commando (in the nude), I did lay a pair of skivvies on the foot of the bed, you never know when you might have to jump up and run out side to the bunker. Just an old habit left over from Vietnam. Some times it seemed like I was still there. The clean sheets felt wonderful as I drifted off to sleep.
The First Morning...
I woke rested for the first time since I since I left my Grandpa's farm, to go off to the Marines. I felt like I was home. My normal time to get up on the Farm had always been 0400 hrs, because that was the time the cows got up. I had grown so used to getting up and having some graham crackers and coffee with my Grandpa in the mornings. Then we would go out to milk the cows. This morning I couldn't sleep in. I went down stairs trying to be quiet so I wouldn't disturb Emma. I didn't have any coffee with me, but I did have a few tea bags I'd stuffed in my pocket from the previous evenings meal at the Dorm. I quietly set a pot on the stove to make tea.
"Good Morning, Tom. What are you doing up so early?
"Good Morning, Emma."
I explained about my habit of getting up early on the farm and having coffee with my Grandpa in the mornings.
"Would you like coffee?
"No, I'm good. Would you like some tea? The water is almost ready?"
"I would love some. It has been a long time since I have been up this early." Emma replied.
Emma, got a tray and some cups out and I grabbed the pot off the stove and poured the hot water into a beautiful porcelain tea pot she had put on the tray with cream and sugar.
"Shall we go out on to the patio?" I asked her.
It seemed so natural that morning, I didn't realize that I only had on a pair of skivvies and a tee shirt. As I turned and picked up the tray, I realized that I was not dressed appropriately for mixed company.
"I'm sorry Emma, I guess I am not dressed to receive company this morning." Looking at her, she wore a long white dressing gown. "I'll just run up stairs and get some pants and shoe's on."
"Don't worry about it Tom, I've seen underwear before. You look very fit. Let's go out, the sun is just starting to peek out over the trees."
I carried the tray out, the golden rays of first morning light were just coming through the tree tops across the river. We settled in and I realized it was cool outside. I quickly ran back inside and grabbed a lap blanket from Emma's chair that I had seen the day before and brought it out and wrapped it around her shoulders.
"Thank you Tom, that is so thoughtful." "Here let me pour you a cup." She said.
When we had our tea, we settled back in companionable silence to watch the sun come up.
As we sat there watching the glow grow a little brighter every minute, I was looking down along the far side river bank and I saw a doe and her two fawns from last spring come slipping out of the trees to get a drink. They must have felt safe as they came out with no hesitation.
"Emma, look down at the river edge," I whispered.
Just as I said it, a beam of sun light came through the trees and lit the trio up and the light came across the river like a spotlight beam. We were still in shadows up on the bluff, but down at the river the whole forest was ablaze in green and gold.
"Oh how beautiful," Emma said.
We sat and watched and soon the moment passed and the morning began to arrive in earnest. The birds started flitting through the trees and a pair of Mallards came flying up the river. We sipped our tea and watched the world wake up. We sat for awhile longer just watching the morning come. Each of us was lost in our own thoughts. It felt like we had done this together for a thousand mornings.
"Emma, you stay here and enjoy the sun. I will clean up and then I need to run to get to my first early class."
As I stepped to the table to get the tray, Emma reached out to take my hand and drew it to her lips and kissed it softly.
"Thank you for a wonderful morning. I haven't done this in years."
"It was beautiful wasn't it?" I replied.
I gathered the tray and went back into the house.
Over the next few days, morning tea became 'our time' that we spent together. I was busy all day it seemed, what with work at the Food Service or classes or studying. Over the next few weeks, we settled into a gentle friendship that became very dear to both of us. I couldn't wait to see her in the mornings and tell her about my day and some times we would stroll through her gardens and she would show me what she had done the day before. The gardens were her passion and they clearly showed her love and care.
The weeks went by, Fall gave way to Winter. Iowa winters on the prairie can be brutal, and that winter of 1969 was no exception. Almost every other day a new storm blew in off the plains.
There was a large hill about a mile to the west. It was crested with a rim of tall trees. They seemed to slow the winds down somewhat, and consequently the snow settled down to the east of them very deeply. We didn't have to deal with drifts, much, but the depth of the snow was considerable. The morning of the first snow, I went out to shovel the drive and walks so I could get out and get to school. The city was good about keeping the streets clear, but our lane was a whole different problem. I was out shoveling and Emma came out and said.
"Why don't you use the tractor?"
I had seen the old John Deere 720 with a loader on it, but I had not thought much about it. I had spent many hours operating tractors on my Grandpa's farm.
"Does it work?" I asked.
It was parked in the third stall of the large garage. I hadn't noticed that the tractor was all cleaned up and had a 'Heat Houser' installed on it. This was a pair of canvas shields that were installed along the sides of the front of the tractor. They channeled the heat off the engine back toward the operator and helped keep him warm. There was also a large plastic semi circular window in front of the steering wheel to block the wind. With this set up, as long as you had a hat and hooded sweat shirt, you could keep quite warm and cozy while you worked out side riding the tractor.
"Yes. My neighbor John came and got it all ready for me last week. I forgot to tell you. The tractor was how Einar took care of all this property. He got this one a year before he died. It has hardly been used. He used it to push the snow on the lane."
I promptly put my shovel away and got busy using the tractor, in almost no time, I had the parking area clear and made a couple of runs down the lane to the street and I was done. I was running late, so I just jumped in my car and headed for school.
That evening when I got home, Emma met me at the door and said, "Where did you run off to this morning? I made you some nice hot oat meal for breakfast. I thought you would need it after being out in the cold so long."
"Thank you. I could have surely used it. It took me all morning to get warmed up in class. I will make sure I come back in after the next snow storm."
I hadn't worked that evening meal, so I was home earlier than normal.
"Have you eaten?" I asked her.
"No, not yet, would you like to eat with me?" she asked me.
We had continued to share our morning tea time, a little later in the morning since it was winter, this was the first time that I was home around supper time.
"I was going to go out and eat somewhere, I just don't have the energy to cook or much food in the frig either." I told her.
"Not to worry, I will fix us a nice meal. You go and have your bath and everything will be ready when you come down. Off you go." She told me.
I came down to the kitchen and just as she said, the meal was ready and waiting on the table. It was simple and very good.
"I will have to go shopping and get some food in so that I can eat here more often. I just have been so busy that I haven't had time to think about it and eating on the way home always just seemed easier" I told her.
"Tom, I have an idea, what would you think if I handled all the grocery shopping, and made sure we had plenty of food on hand and when you are able to be home? I will cook. It's as easy to cook for two as it is for one. When I am here without you, for lots of meals, I just nibble and don't really eat. This way we both get a good meal and you don't have to be concerned about having food around. You have done so much to help me this fall with the yard and house and then the snow the other day. I feel I should pay you."
"You don't have to pay me or feed me Emma. I am perfectly capable of cooking and taking care of myself, it really is not necessary to go to the trouble and expense. I have helped you because I wanted to and I enjoyed it too."
"Please Tom, don't misunderstand. I meant no disrespect. You have become my friend and I want to do this. It will not be a burden on me."
We continued to talk about it for the next few minutes and then I got up to clear the table. I put the dishes in the sink and started to get ready to wash them. Emma finished up putting the left overs away in the fridge and I started to wash up the dishes. She stood beside me and took each plate or glass and dried it as I handed it to her. I became aware that her hip was pressing against mine, after she put the last piece of silverware away, and I was wiping down the sink, her arm wrapped around my waist and I felt her pull me close to her side. I turned toward her and her other arm wrapped around me and we stood close together. She laid her head on my shoulder and we just held each other
"Thank you for being here," she whispered in my ear, and I hugged her closer.
"You're welcome." I responded.
She tilted her head back and looked me in the eyes and the next thing I know, we are kissing. Not like friends, but like lovers.
It had been so long since I had any contact with a female, not since I got home from Vietnam. I was instantly aroused. I forgot that she was many years my senior. All I saw and felt was a beautiful exciting woman in my arms responding to my kiss.
'Whoa, where did that come from, ' I wondered to myself as I stepped back from her.
"I'm sorry, Emma. I don't know what came over me," I said and quickly left and went up to my room.
Once in my room, I felt like kicking myself for taking advantage of Emma. I don't know what came over me.
The next morning, I got up early and for the first time in a long time we didn't have tea together. I was up and out of the house very early. I just couldn't face her and see the hurt in her eyes that I imagined would be there. For the next few days, I threw myself into my studies, and I stayed on campus until late in the evening and the library closed. By the time I got home, Emma had already gone to bed.
It was Wednesday afternoon and all the weather reports were predicting the "Storm of the Century" would be rapidly coming down on us by early Thursday morning.
I had managed to stay out of Emma's way for several days after my embarrassing behavior. I had to work late at the Food Service, and then I went to the library to finish up a paper that was due on Friday.
I wanted to get it done, as I didn't know if I would be able to get to campus on Thursday. I knew I would have to face Emma and apologize for my actions. I was so ashamed of myself for letting my body get out of control. It had only been a kiss, but I had wanted much more. Since we most likely would be snowed in together on Thursday, it looked like we would be forced to have a "Come to Jesus meeting." My Grandpa had always told me to step up and admit when you screwed up, even with these sage words of wisdom, it was not an easy thing for me to do.
Finally, my paper was done. I slipped it through the slot in the Prof's door so he would have it on Friday, if we managed to get to school, then. I headed home and listened to the forecast on the radio as I drove. We'd already had three good storms so far this year, and the snow accumulation was already as high as my cars hood along the edges of the streets and higher than the roof at the corners.
The Weather Report...
"The storm will start after midnight and winds will increase up to forty to sixty miles per hour after two A.M. At least twelve to fourteen inches of snow is predicted. The storm is headed our way out of the Dakotas and is only 150 miles away over Brookings, South Dakota. It will pass over SW Minnesota and be here soon. Make sure all pets and livestock are secured, indoors. Please stay off the roads, once the winds start, the snow plows will be pulled off the roads until it goes down. Please stay tuned to this station for up to the minute updates."
Wow, that doesn't sound good at all. Except for my stint in Marines, I have lived in Iowa a good portion of my life. This storm while large and potentially dangerous was not something that most Iowans had not seem sometime in the past. Just because you have seen it, doesn't mean you want to see one again, any time soon.
As I pulled down the lane, the house was all lit up. I pulled into the garage and shut the car down. I went over and made sure that the tractor's heater was plugged in. It kept the engine crankcase oil warm so the tractor was easy to start no matter how cold it was. Storing the tractor in the garage helped a lot, too.
As I stepped out of the garage light snow was starting to come down. I walked toward the house and the back door opened and Emma was framed by the light behind her from the kitchen ceiling. I don't know if she knew the view she was giving me or not. The light was streaming through her white night gown. Her silhouette was sharply defined through the white fabric. I could see the flare of her slim hips and her legs. As I came up the stairs, she pushed the door open and took my arm and led me inside and helped me off with my coat.
"I am so glad you are home. I have been worried about you getting home all evening. I just hate these storms. A normal snow fall is one thing. A blizzard is a completely different story. We haven't had one as bad as this one is being predicted to be, in quite a few years."
She drew me into the warm kitchen from the pantry area where coats were kept and hugged me and asked me if I wanted something warm to drink. She didn't seem to be up set with me at all.
"Yes, I would love some hot cocoa if we have it," I told her.
"It will just take a minute. Sit down at the table and I will get the milk on the stove to warm. Did you get all your studies and papers done, tonight?" she asked.
"Yes. I'm all caught up. Even if we get snowed in, it will be okay. I will have a winter vacation for a day or two. I have been busy almost from the first day I got to town. This will be the first break I have had."
As I sat there, I realized that my Mom's birthday was coming up in two weeks, I laughed to myself. I never forget hers, as hers is one day after mine. Emma gave me a kind of quizzical look. I explained about my Mom's birthday.
"Oh? What day is yours?" Emma asked me.
"December seventh," I told her. "What day is yours?" I asked.
"December first. I knew she had been born in 1909, so she was just going to be sixty, next week. I was going to be twenty-four.
The really strange thing was Emma didn't look much over thirty-five to forty years old. She was so slender and tall and her skin was so flawless. She had none of the 'old lady wrinkles' or 'turkey wattles' under her chin like so many old people do. Her breasts seemed to be an 'A' cup in size from what I could see of them through her nightgown.
As I sat and watched her, I had a raging erection that I had to keep covered with the table edge. It was so hard, I could have driven spikes into oak plank with it if I had tried. Watching her move around the kitchen was not helping matters at all.
Finally the milk was warm and she made the Cocoa and brought it over to the table and sat down next to me. As we sat and sipped the Cocoa, I felt her hand slip on to my leg and take my hand that I had resting there. She held my hand and we sat and drank and didn't speak for a minute or two. Once the Cocoa was done, I leaned over and kissed her cheek and told her thank you for the cocoa.
"I think I am going to head for bed, do you need me to do anything before I head up?" I asked her.
She stood up from her chair and took her cup to the sink and turned to me and said.
"Just give me a hug, before you go off to bed."
I stepped toward her and enfolded her in my arms and pressed my cheek to hers. I hugged her for a minute or so and nothing was said. We were so close to being the same height. She had to be six-two to my six-five. Her legs are just a little longer than mine so everything lined up just right. I forced myself to step back and bid her good night once again.
"Good night, sweetheart," she told me as I left the kitchen.