Jesse Lee pulled the covers over her head. She did not want to get up yet, but her chores were not going to do themselves. Just a few more minutes, she thought. She didn’t get much sleep with the words she accidentally heard yesterday bouncing around in her head.
They thought she didn’t hear when she walked by them in the hall but she had. She kind of wished she hadn’t. “Oh well,” she thought. They were probably just making it up anyway. Both Louann and Becky were well known for their gossip and embellishments. But what if? No, she pushed it out of her mind.
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“Jesse Lee, you better get a move on,” her mothers voice echoed up the stairs. And with that she got herself up and to the closet. She pulled on a pair of her work jeans and old denim shirt. It was Saturday and that meant cleaning out the stalls. But first, it was down to the kitchen for breakfast and she could smell the bacon from here.
A quick stop in the bathroom to run a brush thru her hair. She pulled it back into a ponytail while glancing in the mirror. The words she heard yesterday came flooding back.
Louann and Becky were around the corner in the next isle of the grocery store. She heard them as clear as a bell.
“Did you see Jesse Lee? I mean it’s more apparent every day.” Louann spoke to Becky.
“I know. Do you think she is adopted, or her mama had an affair?” Becky giggled in reply.
“I don’t know but she sure doesn’t fit. I mean just look at her brothers.” Louann answered.
Jesse Lee looked away and headed down the stairs to the kitchen.
Everyone else was already at the table. She got an eye roll from her youngest brother and a stern face from Dad. Once seated, Mom said a short grace and everyone dug in.
The kitchen was Jesse’s favorite room. It was an old style farmhouse and the furnishing were far from modern, yet very comfortable. About three years back Dad installed a dishwasher for Mom. It had been kind of comical watching her the first few times she used it, but she finally got the hang of it. Funny thou, she still washed by hand more often than not. She said it made her hands feel good to soak in the hot, soapy water.
The farmhouse was large. On the main floor, besides the kitchen, there was a living room, a small den that her father turned into his office. One bedroom and one bathroom. There were three bedrooms upstairs. The bathroom downstairs used to be the only one in the house. Ten years ago they remodeled the upstairs sewing room into a second bathroom and that had made things a lot easier for everyone. It had got to be too much for five of them fighting over one bathroom.
Jesse Lee liked her cozy little bedroom. Thomas had the biggest room, but she didn’t care because she had the best view. Her big window let her look out at the barn and across the pasture to the mountains and beyond. Montana was so beautiful. She could not imagine living anywhere else.
Now, at the breakfast table, Jesse looked over each of her family with different eyes. Her youngest brother Neddy was 14. His dirty blond hair flopped over his forehead and across one of his blue eyes. Mom made mention it was time for Neddy to get a haircut. She glanced down the table at her other brother Thomas. He was 17 now. Where had the time gone? Seemed just yesterday she was helping him up into the saddle. Now he stood nearly as tall as father. A handsome young man with short cropped sandy hair and the same blue eyes as Neddy. He already had the girls chasing after him.
Father finished and got up to go to work. “Both you boys get in gear, we got cows to move today.”
Jesse Lee watched him as he grabbed his hat and jacket off the coat rack and head out the door. He was tall. She guessed around 6 feet. He had the same sandy hair as Thomas both the boys got their blue eyes from him.
It seemed to her that Dads eyes were far more piercing. He was a quiet man, for the most part. Praise came from him rarely but well deserved when he gave it. Jesse Lee always felt a bit awkward around him. They were never as close as he and the boys. She just figured it was because she was a girl.
She also assumed that was the reason he rarely asked her to help with the cattle. Heck, she could out ride both her brothers and was a good hand on the ranch. She remembered some tough winters when calving season needed everyone on deck. She sat with newborn calves warming up in the bathtub more than a few times.
When it was branding time, she was expected to help Mom with all the food that needed to be made and served to everyone that showed up. Branding was always a fun time of year. All the neighboring ranchers came together to help each other get it done. She didn’t mind helping her mother because it would have been nearly impossible to do by herself. Well, maybe not. She thought her mother a magician at times.
She often wished to be out in the midst of all the action. Even when they helped with branding at the neighboring ranches she ended up in the kitchen with a few exceptions. She was good with a lariat because she had secretly practiced on her own. Not only with the roping but she trained her horse to do his intended job. Dad and Thomas were both pretty surprised to see her throw a rope with such accuracy. They were equally surprised to see how well her horse worked to hold and drag the calf.
The boys had finished and gone out behind their father. It left her picking at her scrambled eggs. Mom had started collecting the dirty dishes and taking them to the sink. Jesse Lee watched her move about in her graceful, steady manner. She was a beautiful woman and Jesse Lee admired her many talents. Her light brown hair was twisted up in the back as it usually was. Her hazel eyes lit up the room.
She thought about her own reflection in the mirror this morning. Her eyes were brown. Her hair long and nearly black. She could not shake the whispers she heard yesterday. Why had she never noticed the difference before? Or had she on a subconscious level?
She was going to find out. But how? She could not imagine asking either of her parents about it. If she was making much to do about nothing it would upset them terribly to ask such a thing. No, she could not. Father? Definitely not. Their relationship was far from a close one to begin with. Maybe she would snoop in his office for something. If she were adopted, there must be paperwork, and everything was kept in that office. Maybe go talk to Grams, surely, she would know. A neighbor maybe? She might even find out in town at the cafe where some of the old-timers hung out to gossip.
One way or another she was going to find out. She had to. But, for now she pushed all the thoughts, fears, and questions back. She had to get to her chores.
Author: Linda Carlson copyright 2020
To be continued…………………. IF you want the next session — please sign up at the bottom of this page so you don’t miss a thing… Oh its going to get good..
WHERE WILL JESSE LEE LOOK FIRST?
Leave your guess in the Comments.