She was awake but not ready to get up yet. She knew she should because her chores were not going to do themselves but she just wanted to lay there a few more minutes. She had a restless night with many thoughts running thru her mind after what she heard yesterday.
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.
As an Affiliate I may earn a small fee from qualifying purchases of some of the links you might click and purchase – at no additional cost to you.
“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 in the hall yesterday came flooding back. “Jesse Lee must be adopted or her mama had an affair.” was what Louann had said. Becky had replied, “I know, I mean she sure doesn’t look like the rest of them.” Jesse Lee looked away and pushed the words back as she 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 in the house. It was where the family got together more than anywhere else. Her Mom was the best cook and there was always a sweet, mouth watering aroma wafting thru the house.
It was an old style farm house and the furnishing were not modern but well built and comfortable. About 3 years back Dad did install 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 some of them by hand. She said it made her hands feel good to soak in the hot, soapy water.
The house was good sized. On the main floor, besides the kitchen, there was a living room, one bedroom, one bathroom and a small den that was more of an office where Dad spent a lot of time keeping the books. There were three bedrooms upstairs and about 10 years back Dad and a couple of friends remodeled an old sewing room that was upstairs, into a bathroom. It had got to be to much for him fighting over the bathroom with three kids.
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 beyond. Montana was so beautiful. She could not imagine living any where else.
This morning she gave a lot of attention to each of her family as they ate. Youngest brother Neddy was 12. 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. Jesse Lee glanced down the table at her other brother Thomas. He was 15 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. She imagined he would have the girls chasing after him soon enough.
Dad had finished and was getting up to go to work. “Both you boys get moving now, we got cows to move today.” Jesse Lee watched him grab his jacket and hat 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 only rarely but it was usually 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 she was rarely invited to help with the cattle. Heck, she could out ride both her brothers and was a good hand on the ranch. The few times she was asked to help out had been during some tough winters when calving season needed everyone on deck. She helped out with cold newborns many 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. Jesse Lee thought her mother a magician at times.
She often wished to be out in the midst of all the action thou. Even when they helped with brandings at the neighboring ranches she ended up in the kitchen with the exception of a couple of times where she got to be get out there. She was good with a lariat because she had secretly practiced on her own. Dad and Thomas were both pretty surprised to see her catch a few and drag to the fire.
The boys had finished and gone out behind their Father and it left Jesse Lee 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. Mother 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 lite up a room. Jesse Lee knew her to always be patient and caring.
“Ok, well” Jesse said. “I am off to the chicken coup and then to the barn.” She grabbed her jacket and a cap off the the coat rack by the door and started out with her Mothers words trailing along. “You come let me know if your going riding when your done.” “I will.” Jesse Lee yelled back as she bounded down the steps.
As she walked she became overwhelmed with a number of questions racing thru her mind. Was it possible she was not of this family? If not, who was she? Did her Mother have an affair that had been a secret all of these years? Was she was adopted? Then her confusion turned to anger. Would her Mother keep something like this from her? And if so – WHY?? And her Father? He must know. She had so many questions.
She thought about her own reflection in the mirror this morning. Her eyes were brown. Her long hair, nearly black. She could not shake the whispers she heard yesterday. She had looked the family over with new eyes this morning. Why had she never noticed it before? Or had she – on a subconscious level? It was there – and no denying it.
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 cut her mother like a knife to ask such a thing. No, she could not. Father? Definitely not. Their relationship was far from a close one to begin with. She often wondered if he even liked her. 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 café where some of the old-timers hung out.
One way or another she was going to find out. She had to. But, for now she pushed all the thoughts, fears, anger and questions back and got to her chores.
Author: Linda Carlson copywrite 2019
To be continued………………….
WHERE WILL JESSE LEE LOOK FIRST?
Leave your guess in the Comments.