“There is a kind of magicness about going far away and then coming back all changed.”― Kate Douglas Wiggin
Henford-on-Bagley Calderas Farm
Leonie looked up after she hoisted yet another packed box onto a stack, her eyes met her husband Zeke’s who instantly smiled at her, so she walked over to him. He stopped packing and looked up at her, she smiled down at him feeling a comfortable warmth engulf her heart.
“How much do you really – I mean REALLY – hate me for this?” Leonie asked with a sigh.
“Not even one iota. Mi querida, we talked about this. My sole purpose in life is to make you happy and to provide for our boys. I already failed to give you the one boy, one girl scenario you hoped for …”
“ZEKE! Baby! No. We talked about THAT too. We both love our boys and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Fate thought instead of one rambunctious boy you could tire out playing catch in the front yard, while I dress up our little girl like a doll-like mini me, we needed TWO rambunctious boys, who mostly refuse and resend wearing ANY sort of clothing, let alone let me dress them up cute. I am not sure how that is going to go once Olli goes to school and can only pray they both have outgrown that phase before they reach their teen years cos those calls from school would be VERY awkward.” Both chuckled, looking at said boys, 5 year old Oliver and 4 year old Lucas both fully dressed for a change, as they were too busy unpacking freshly packed boxes again that hadn’t been taped up yet.
“You are too good for me. So beautiful. I should have never asked you to hide away on a farm. What an idiot I am … you deserve to be flaunted and …”
“Zeke. I am from Windenburg. We are moving back to Windenburg. That is not exactly some fashion metropolis where you flaunt anything or anyone. I was not unhappy here. Just the farm work isn’t my thing. I think this move will be great for the four of us. Well, five, let’s not forget about Monty.” Leonie said when their Border Collie “Montana” barked at the playing boys, then, as if the devil himself were after him, jumped into his doggie bed and passed out, snoring almost instantly.
“I’d move to the ends of the world to make you happy, baby. Oh, it’s time. That guy coming for the chickens should be here any moment.”
“Oh gawd …” Leonie sighed, feeling emotional.
The relocation was rough and had not been an easy decision. Not only had they both poured so much love, hard work and effort into remodeling this once run down old farmhouse into the beautiful cozy family home it was now, but they had learned the hard way how to raise generations worth of prized chickens, while also dealing with two cows. Elsa and Rosie had already been sold to a neighboring farm, same was about to happen with the chickens.
Farmlife wasn’t for the faint of heart and over the past few years Leonie had to realize that she wasn’t cut out for it. She had studied Botany in college, loved gardening, so owning a farm was perfect, right? WRONG. Having a thriving vegetable garden like her mom and she spent hours in ever since Leonie was little was a far cry from running a lucrative farm. Farming, even on this small scale, meant getting up long before dawn and working until long after dusk, having to deal with sometimes gruesome things, while juggling two small children, a dog, needy chickens and cows, vegetables who were either too dry or battling root rot, vermin or bugs. Tired was a permanent state, a lazy Sunday morning something close to a myth. A taxing and unrewarding life.
And despite years had passed, the once so enticing, scenic Henford-on-Bagley had never become the home to her as Windenburg used to be. People here made a clear distinction between resident statuses, those born here always kept mostly to themselves and those who had moved here on the outside of their tight circle. You got along, they were polite and friendly, but they weren’t friends, you never really belonged. Every trip back home ended with a long tearful goodbye and days of total melancholy after they arrived back home for Leonie, breaking Zeke’s heart.
Then finally he had presented Leonie with the idea of moving back home. Her home. Zeke had no home, no hometown, orphaned young, first his grandmother had raised him, after she died he had a few bad experiences in the system and ended up living on the streets and later in an old car until long after college. He didn’t care where they lived as long as they were together and they were happy.
Leonie had been ecstatic about the idea, yet, on the day of saying their final goodbyes to what had been their home for the past years, she couldn’t help but cry when she turned around, remembering the many happy days spent here, seeing the “for sale” sign did her in and killed the last bit of her composure, she sobbed, which made their youngest cry, which then caused Olli to be testy and eventually sob along with the rest of them when his daddy reprimanded him.
Windenburg Isle Calderas Residence
The new home was the house Leonie’s grandfather, the late Declan Cameron, and his younger brother Everett had grown up in, and which had been a temporary home to several different Cameron households over the past decades whenever the need had arisen, but now it would be a permanent home again, where two brothers would grow up and hopefully make many happy memories, just like their ancestors once had.
Once the movers had left, Leonie’s family was there to help in full force, even her older brother Liam had come in from Del Sol Valley to lend a helping hand.
Watching his wife snuggle up with her parents, older brother and younger sister repeatedly crying, this time for happiness, told Zeke that the sacrifice had been worth it ten times over.
Within about a week the home was furnished and decorated, the last boxes had been discarded and they could finally relax, at least for a few days until Leonie would start her new job. Both felt like they had died and gone to heaven when they were able to sleep in, not just one day, but several days in a row. Making it till 7 felt like a day at the spa and being in bed by 10 felt like a vacation. Having leisure time where nothing needed to be done through the days felt like a lottery win. Even once Leonie’s new job started, she didn’t have to leave till 8 and would be home by 6, which seemed luxurious.
Zeke would work from home as a writer and take care of their kids.
It was great to go out for nice dinners, watch Leonie dress up with actual heels, rather than mud-proof shoes when they went out dancing … Leonie seemed to blossom, the kids loved having playmates right next door, as well as aunt, uncle, and grandparents nearby. Zeke knew this had been the right decision.
Then one evening, when Leonie came down the stairs to join him in the living room, she playfully snuggled him from behind.
“Happy to report both of our little monsters are fast asleep – finally!”
“Awesome. Come sit with me for a moment, I have something to discuss with you.”
“Uh oh … sounds like something big. I don’t know if I can handle anything big just yet. I need about three days of uninterrupted sleep first.” she said when she kissed his cheek.
“It is. Could be.”
“Nuh uh. No bad news. No big decisions. I just came down for some mindless TV … should have gone with my instinct and just dropped into bed.”
“Oh, come on, baby. It’s nothing bad, I promise. Just a thought … come here.” Zeke pulled Leonie into his lap.
“Okayyyyy ..” she sounded defeated, but smiled.
“You know Jay came over earlier to help me figure out why the A/C wasn’t working right, fixed by the way, and we got to talking. His background is a little bit like mine and we talked about his decision to take Abby’s last name after they got married. He said Randalls held no value to him whatsoever, only bad memories, so he saw no point in having Abby take it, let alone a child bear it, in case Abby decides to have one with him. Abby kinda wants to be a Randall though. And then there are the triplets. They are Elliott’s and Abby is thinking about hyphenating their last name to include his, but then if they do choose Randalls, their half-siblings will have different last names.”
“Really? That’s kinda cool … very progressive. I didn’t even really process they were thinking about that, still feel like a kid in a candy store being back home just in time for their wedding.”
“Yeah. It kinda made me think, if we shouldn’t have done the same. I mean, what is Calderas, really? I don’t even remember my family, I cannot even say if they were anything to hold into any regard. My grandmother who raised me, was my maternal one and was a Martin-Cortez anyway, so I cannot even claim I am keeping it in her honor. Then the Calderas Farm was nothing but a headache, a money pit, and if I am really honest, a failure. I feel we lost years with that rat race. You maiden name least means something, evokes nothing but good memories for me, because once I met you, my life finally changed for the better for once. Now that’s something I can see carrying on through generations. Kinda like Jay feels.”
“You don’t like the idea, mi cielo?”
“I do .. I think .. I don’t know. That’s quite the surprise whammy, Zeke, that you are even thinking about that. I like being Mrs. Calderas. Can’t we just keep it as is?”
“Of course. It’s just an idea. Up to you. I don’t know how much name changes cost, since it would be for all four of us, but we should decide before we have to sign Olli up for school. And maybe, since we downsized and both will have jobs and no more farm money pit, maybe we can eventually talk about having another child, to see if you can have that little girl you wanted.”
“Come here you … I love you, I love our kids, I love being a mom, but NO MORE babies right now! Zeke, you are too much. Let us arrive first before we even talk about all that.”
“Yet, never enough. Te quiero mucho, amor de mi vida!”
“You are EVERYTHING, Zeke and I love you too. Let’s sleep on the name change. I rather like being Mrs. Calderas, sounds so fiery and exotic. Leonie Cameron … nice. But Leonie Calderas. Meow!” Leonie giggled, playfully ‘clawing’ at Zeke.
“Exotic? I wouldn’t consider Spanish to be very exotic.”
“You may not, cos you are Spanish, and were born into it, but I do. Now show me some of that Latino lover side of you …”