It was a warm, breezy afternoon. She wandered into the cherry orchard that lay on the west side of the drive. The trees were at full blossom, and the loamy ground was covered with the white and pink flowers that had surrendered to the breeze. In just a few weeks, the branches would be heavy with fruit. She recollected the many times she and Jake and the rest of the gang had perched in the low branches, gobbling down the ripe, juicy cherries until their bellies had ached.
Grandma had shipped a box of cherries to her last summer, along with a note that had struck Annie as peculiar at the time. Something about the seasons of the year and waiting until the time was right. The time is right, Annie, the note had concluded. Wish you were here to savor it. Now, Annie wished she’d listened to her heart the day she’d read that note. Wished she’d caved in to the yearning to come home. Things would be a lot different now if she had.
The cherry orchard ended at a wood slat fence. The adjacent field sloped upwards to a cluster of live oak trees. Ethan’s new house was in that direction. To her left was the old chicken house. She hesitated a moment before taking the path to the faded wood structure. When her grandmother was a girl, the building had been filled from floor to rafters with chicken roosts; their eggs had been sold to grocers throughout the county. Zelda’s father had built the coop spacious enough to suit a king, and, after all this time, the structure still stood solid.
The gang had spent many a summer night there, sharing spooky stories long into the wee hours. On rainy days, it’d been an ideal place to play games. They’d had parties here in their teens because it was far enough away from the house that they could get loud and crazy without bothering anyone. It was here where she and Jake and Ethan had indulged in their first beer, passing the bottle back and forth with silly, guilty grins.
The door creaked on its rusty hinges as she pulled it open.
An excerpt from Annie and Jake
Copyright © 2018 Margaret Desmond
This post is in response to the Daily Prompt: Guilty