Posts I guess

I just finished saying good-bye to the horses when I noticed Mack standing in the frame of the barn. My heart lept. He had been avoiding me the last few days, even since we had gone on that camping sleep over and made love under the stars. I think it was just too painful for him, counting down the days.

“Hey Mack,” I said, ogling his bare chest. I loved him shirtless.
“Hey,” he said, fingering his waistband. “So you’re off?”
“Yeah,” I replied. “Just about. It’s long drive to Casper, I’m staying overnight, and then catching a morning flight to Dallas.”
Mack nodded. He knew all of this. “God it’s hot as fuck. We are going to have a great harvest this year because of it though. It’ll be weird without you.”
I took off my hat, sticking it on a stall post so I could take off my shirt and wipe my face with it. I then put my hat back on. “I’ll try to come back and help out.”

“No,” Mack said firmly, putting his foot down and turning to face me.
“…No?” I repeated, confused.
“No. You go off to college and you enjoy yourself. You learn. I’m not booksmart like you. The world out there is too big for me. All I ever need to know I’ll learn from the land and the animals.”
“But knowing about agriculture ain’t enough. I’ve heard of good farms going down cause of bad books. You get smart, and you come back, and take this farm over from Old Man Pritchard and run this farm right. You hear?”
I nodded, a lump suddenly forming in my throat.
“I will.”
“And come back for Thanksgiving and Christmas ok? Or at least one?”
When I heard the sorrow in Mack’s voice, I almost wanted to tell him I’d stay.
I heard my own voice falter when I said – “I will.”

Mack shuffled in the thing. “And one other thing.”
“Yes?” I whispered.
He paused. “Shit.” He paused another moment and swallowed hard, scuffing up a storm of dust with his boots. I waited, heart pounding.
“I want you to do whatever what you want at college. Because when you come back here in four years, you are going to be mine. Gay marriage will be legal by then, I’m sure of it. And I’m going to marry you proper. But when you’re at college, you live without limits. No regrets. Just…don’t forget about me. Ok?”
I stared at Mack, shocked. My chest felt tight and my face hot. Not August-summer-hot, but like my-heart-was-pumping-in-overdrive-hot. It was all I had ever wanted, and something I’d never thought I’d hear him say; and now he was saying it, and I still had to leave.
When I didn’t reply right away, Mack repeated again in a smaller voice. “Ok?”
I nodded, my hands trembling. “Yes. Yes, ok. Yours.”
Mack exhaled loudly and his shoulders relaxed. “Ok.” I watched his sculpted torso heave, and he turned away from me sharply. “Shit,” he muttered again, and I watched him move his arms in a way that indicated he was brushing tears away.

I had only seen Mack cry three times in my life. Once when he fell off a horse at age seven and broke his arm. The other time was having to put down one of the collies after a coyote got to her. The last was when his mother died. And now….I felt guilt swell up in me. I had put off college for two years after I finished high school. The nearest community college was over an hour away, and I had a short lived career in rodeo to fill the time anyway.
With my winnings, I could finally afford to go to college. I got accepted to a program in Texas. I picked it cause I had rodeo friends in Texas. It was far from Wyoming. Mack had pushed me to go. I realized now that he had to have known what it meant, because he had to have been in love with me from that point. He was the strongest cowboy I had ever met. I knew there would be nobody in the entirety of Texas who would live up to how much I worshiped Mack.

I walked up to Mack and wrapped my arms around his waist. He was slick and sticky and dusty, but he smelled amazing. I buried my face in his neck and inhaled. My hat fell to the dust. Mack tensed, then wimpered. “Please…”
“I will miss you like hell, John MacIntire.”

The dam broke, and we both started sobbing. He turned to face me and threw his arms around my neck. The horses snorted. I don’t know who saw us, and I didn’t look up to see cause I would have been mighty embarrassed.
After a good cry, we both reached for our handkerchiefs at the same time and chuckled about it.
I kissed him, right there in the yard.
Mack kissed me back, and squeezed my ass. I couldn’t believe how forward he was being. It was like being in a wonderful, yet horrible dream.
Mack hiccuped, then bent over to pick up my hat and brushed it off before handing it back to me. “Your dad’s probably waiting by the car. You outta get going. Long drive to Casper.”
I nodded, putting it on my head. “Long boring drive. I’ll text you every step of the way ok?”
Mack nodded. “Bye, Harlan.”
I pulled away from him. He squeezed my hand, and then his rough and calloused hands fell away. “Bye Mack.”

I smiled, then took a few steps back, turned and walked away. I didn’t look back until the car was pulling down the long driveway. Mack was standing in the middle of the road, hand in his pockets, face shaded by his hat. He was scuffling up a storm.

Captions are fictional.


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