Jeanne sorted through yet another basket of produce, checking for ripeness, bad spots, and any little critter that had hitched a ride aboard. Autumn came in and food dropped faster than they could pick it up. They’d be glad of it when snow started to pile up the doorways and the light darted in and out of the sky faster than they could follow.
Dirk brought in another basket, shook his head at the row in front of Jeanne, and went back out to gather another one. Jeanne took a long moment to watch him walk away. For all that the weather was getting colder, Dirk had definitely thawed. Watching the warmth and kindness emerge from hands that had been accustomed to fists and anger had done a world of good for her own soul. It made her want to break her rules and at the same time, showed her how good it was to have them. So she’d circumvented the questions she wanted to ask. Learned from the way he turned at some sounds and not others. What he listened to on the radio, a slow easy way to get to know someone. He’d been performing the same evaluation on her, even if she couldn’t tell when he was tallying some motion of hers. It felt like lying. It felt like spying. It felt a damn sight better than anything she’d tried before.
The book she’d been reading last night claimed, “There is a fine line between ‘If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be’ and ‘God helps those who help themselves.’” The author had used it as a call to action, that change simply didn’t happen. When she’d been a wild thing, dreaming of revolution, she’d grabbed that idea and used it to justify every radical statement, every violent charge, and any death in the name of her cause. Now, now she differed in the speed.
She found a bruised and leaking apple, no good for storing, and tossed it into the bucket to be turned into cider. Like a field in winter, she wasn’t doing nothing, and neither was Dirk. Maybe there’d be a point where they’d start to tackle the baggage they’d both stuffed in closets. Until then, Jeanne took a good apple and bit into it. Well, they’d see what the winter would bring.