Sara stood in the doorway of her brother’s hospital room. She pulled her long blonde hair into a ponytail for the third time. The act of fidgeting, trying to capture every single strand of hair was proving to be a useful distraction. Sean had been in a coma for a little over a month. She didn’t want to go in, but she also didn’t want to leave. What if this was the day he woke up? She needed to be there.
But what if it wasn’t? What if this was just another day?
Johnny came behind her, putting his arms around her waist. “Surprised?” he asked as he rested his head on her shoulder.
“Not really, you walk like a horse.”
“Is that any way to talk to your boyfriend?”
“I thought country boys liked being compared to horses.” She turned around, grabbing his crotch. “Unless you don’t measure up?”
“Ow…Baby, please…” Johnny chuckled, as he moved to kiss her neck.
Sara couldn’t help but notice Johnny was still in his paramedic uniform. “Aren’t you off for the day?”
“Yeah, I was going to change when I left.”
“Oh, so you’re not staying with me?”
“Well…” Johnny ran his fingers through his wavy brown hair. “I was kind of hoping you would come to my place?”
“You mean your van?”
“No, my old art studio, on my parents’ farm.”
“You want me to meet your parents?”
“Not exactly, my folks are out of town.”
Sara took a seat by Sean’s side. Now was not the time for games. “Give me one good reason why I should leave this room?”
“You’ve never been to my farm. This place is really special to me. I’ve been waiting for weeks for a chance to take you there.”
“Because you don’t want to introduce me to your parents?”
“My parents are assholes! I care about the farm more then I do them, that’s why I can only visit when I’m certain they won’t be there!”
Sara nodded, she already knew why. Johnny had been kicked out when he was eighteen. He struggled for years, all while his parents waited for him to come crawling home to work on the farm. But he wanted more, he wanted his freedom. And Sara loved him enough to know that. “Is my mom here? I know she had a meeting at the DA’s office, earlier.”
“Your mom is in the waiting room. If there’s any news we can come straight back, I swear. The farm is only thirty minutes away.”
Sara sighed. “Would it mean a lot to you?”
“Yeah,” Johnny said with a shy smile.
“Did you already plan something, and I’m ruining your surprise?”
“That’s what I get for dating a genius.”
“I’m not a genius, you’re just predictable. But if it means so much to you I will go visit your studio.”
Johnny tipped an invisible cowboy hat. “Thank you kindly, Miss Sara.”
Sara looked into Johnny’s innocent eyes. But as she stood up she saw her hand was still holding Sean’s. Sara didn’t even remember holding his hand. It was as if part of her, literally, wanted to stay. “Goodbye Sean, I’ll see you tomorrow.” She leaned in to kiss his forehead. “I promise.”
Sara walked with Johnny to his van, in the parking garage. He let her in the side door before climbing in next to her, fishing his civilian clothes out of a small plastic hamper.
As usual, his van reeked of cigarettes and room spray. Sara coughed, as she reached to open a window. “I really wish you would find a different habit to calm your nerves.”
“Sorry, Babe.” Johnny slammed the window open, allowing in a steady gust of air even as he shut the door.
Sara flopped down on his small air mattress. “I’m just going to nap for the ride over.” She kept her eyes peeled, catching a glimpse of his olive skin, as Johnny stripped down to his boxers.
He quickly changed and got into the driver’s seat, hightailing out of the parking lot.
Johnny tended to drive his van like it was his ambulance, causing even the most stable stomachs to become seasick. Unable to sleep Sara sat up, looking out the window. She was still depressed, but once she caught sight of the farm her spirits lifted. “Cows!”
“You live in North Dakota and you’ve never seen cows?”
“Not this close,” she said, with her face pressed against the window. Growing up in the suburbs, attending an elitist high school, the closest she ever came to livestock was dissecting a pig in science class. But as they passed the lush green fields of cattle, Sara’s heart was filled with joyful excitement. It was almost enough to cancel out the pain of Sean not being with her.
For the remainder of the drive, she rode in the front seat watching as the large wooden structure came in to view. The farm was more than just the one house, it appeared to be an entire complex of red wooden buildings.
“The farm also has pigs and chickens.” Johnny parked outside the main gate. He said hello to a few migrant workers as he opened the door to let Sara out of his van.
Sara was thankful to have worn jeans, and sneakers, as she stepped onto the muddy, unpaved road.
“Here, take my hand.” Johnny led her around to the back of the main house. “Those are the chickens,” he said, motioning to a fenced-in area. “There’s about fifty on the property. And on the opposite side are the pigs.”
“Do you have any piglets?” Sara asked. “Like, the tiny ones that people try to sell as teacup pigs? They are so cute!”
“I know there were two new mothers in the past month. Not sure how tiny the little ones are.” Johnny led her to a pen where the two new mother pigs were nursing their young.
“They’re so precious!”
“Yeah, they’re cute, but they’re destined to be someone’s dinner.”
“But not now, right now all they know is love.” Sara smiled for a moment before taking a step away. “So where’s your place?”
“We don’t have to go right away. I mean, you look so happy.”
“As cute as these little guys are, I came here to spend time with you.”
“In that case, my place is just over this way.”
Johnny’s studio was a wooden shack behind the farm. The single room had a bare mattress for a bed with the majority of the space used to house his art supplies. There was an outhouse a few feet away, as well as a crudely constructed sink. But what stood out most to Sara was the mess of wires along the ceiling. “Do you have internet access?”
“No, those are for my landline, when I lived here, it connected directly to the main house.” Johnny flipped a switch that turned on a noisy generator. “My mom keeps gas in the generator for times when she comes out here to reminisce.”
“She likes to look at your art books?” Sara asked, glancing at the stacks of drawing pads.
“Yeah,” he said with a shrug. “Make yourself comfortable. I’m going to pull the van around so I can get the groceries out of my cooler.”
“Sure.” Sara took a seat on the mattress. Looking around the small shack she could see a map of Johnny’s past. Pinned to the walls were drawings of nature, plants, and animals, even a few drawings of people. She picked up a drawing pad from the top of a pile and began to flip through. As Sara touched an image of a dark-haired woman with Johnny’s kind, gentle eyes, she couldn’t help but wonder if the drawing was of his mother.
Sara put away the book as she heard the sound of Johnny’s van pulling up. She went outside to the sight of Johnny setting up a small grill. In his cooler, he had a variety of vegetables; carrots, beets, even some celery, and squash. The colorful bounty appeared to draw the attention of a large black horse. The animal stopped by Johnny’s side, lowering its head. “Hey there, Polly,” Johnny said, as he reached in the cooler. “Did you stop by for a carrot?”
“That’s a beautiful horse.”
“She’s mine, a gift from my parents when I was ten.”
“Does she live in a stable?” Sara asked as Johnny fed Polly a carrot.
“Polly lives wherever she pleases. And today, I guess she wanted to meet you.”
The horse shook its head.
“…or just share our dinner,” Johnny added.
“Hi, Polly,” Sara gently petted the creature’s nose. “That’s an interesting name.”
“It was my grandmother’s name. Grandma Polly passed away and two days later this Polly’s mama went into labor. My dad told me I could have her.”
“You raised her from a baby?”
“She lived out here with me, I bottle fed her until she was old enough to roam on her own.” He said as the horse started to walk away.
“Did I hear that correct? You got her when you were ten and you raised Polly out here?”
“That’s correct,” Johnny said as he grilled up the vegetables.
“So, you lived in that little “art studio” when you were ten?”
“What can I say? I always loved living here, in the beauty of nature.”
“And now you live in a van,” Sara sighed.
“I miss it here, sometimes. But I’m pretty good friends with the migrant workers and I know my mom doesn’t mind when I stop by.” Johnny grabbed a roasted carrot with his bare hands. “These need a few more minutes.”
Sara took a seat, pulling her knees to her chest, as she looked up at the sky. “It is really lovely out here.”
He heated a few corn tortillas. “Here, I present to you, roasted pepper and root vegetable tacos.”
“Wow, that was quick.” Sara reached out her hands, cautious of the hot tortilla. “Do you have any salsa?”
Johnny spooned on some chunky dark red sauce from a small Tupperware container. “This is my lime-chipotle adobo sauce.”
“That’s so good! When did you have time to make that?”
“It’s actually just canned chipotle peppers mixed with salt and lime.” A cold wind blew past, causing the flame of the grill to flare up. “That’s not good.” He took a large lid and placed it on the grill. “I’ll cook off the rest of the vegetables and tortillas and meet you inside. There should be a space heater under my drawing desk.”
“Sure, no problem.” Sara went back inside and finished her taco as she looked for the space heater. She ended up locating the large metal box when she stubbed her toe. “Ow!” Crawling on her knees, Sara fiddled with the knobs. Once she got it turned on, the warmth filled the small room.
Taking a seat on the bed, she stroked her fingers along the wood of the wall. That was when she felt it, a hidden book. She flipped through the page, dozens of girls in various stages of undress. She couldn’t help but chuckle. For a sweet country boy, Johnny had a lot of girlfriends.
Did he masturbate to these images? The thought of him pleasuring his body never crossed her mind, but now it was all she could think about. Closing her eyes she could picture him, the tightness of his abs, his hips. She was tempted to touch herself. But just the thought made her giggle- masturbating to the idea of someone else masturbating: an inception of self-pleasure.
Johnny entered the room carrying his cooler. “Hey.” His eyes locked with Sara. “Can I sketch you?”
“Sure.” Sara put down the book.
Johnny put down the cooler and bit his lip as he approached. He touched her face, tracing her cheek. With an excited grin, he picked up a sketchbook, and a felt tip pen. Johnny placed pen to paper and drew Sara without ever breaking eye contact.
“Why are you acting so strange? Do I make you nervous?” Sara asked.
“No, why would you say that?”
Sara smiled awkwardly. “Um.. ok, no reason. So, do you think you’ll ever reconcile with your parents?”
“They kicked me out, told me to be my own man, so that’s what I’m trying to do. Do I miss the farm? Of course, I do. I grew up here, this is my home. Do I miss it enough to give into my father wishes and come to work for him? Hell-no.” Johnny quickly sketched her doll-like features.
“That took you like thirty seconds.”
“What can I say? You inspire me.”
Sara smiled. “Would it be alright if I drew you?”
“Good─ take off your clothes.”
Johnny chuckled nervously. “Are you for real?”
“Oh, this is very real.”
Johnny took off his shirt. His body was thin but fit, with lean muscles.
“Lay back,” Sara whispered as she snatched the pen from his hand. She needed to feel in control. Her brother was in the ICU, clinging to life. She needed something to make her feel empowered. She drew a line from his sternum down his stomach. Following the natural flow of his muscles, she created leaves and then finally a flower bud.
“I thought you were going to draw me, not draw on me.”
“I’ve never been much for realism, this flower is symbolic of the sweet, beautiful person that you are,” Sara said as she finished her design. “And I never said I wasn’t going to draw on you.” Holding the pen in her mouth she went for Johnny’s pants, opening his belt then his fly. She signed her name on his left hip.
Then, just for fun, she leaned in and added a soft kiss to his lower abs.
Johnny chuckled nervously. But he kept his hands to his sides.
Sara started to undress in front of him. She took his hands, placing them against the exposed skin of her stomach as she slid off her t-shirt revealing her lacy white bra. Just as quickly she kicked off her jeans. “You know what to do next.”
“I-I don’t know if I can,” Johnny said nervously, “I want to. You’re so beautiful.”
“Let me help you.” In her bra and panties, she got on her hand and knees and kissed his stomach. She moved her tongue down his pubic hair, and then took him in her mouth. She had never actually performed oral sex before so she had to work on instinct; tongue, not teeth and focus on the tip.
Sara glanced up at Johnny. He was biting his lip. “What did I do to deserve you?”
“Am I as good as the other girls?”
“You’re nothing like the other girls.”
Sara sat up with a pout. “I’m sorry. It’s my first time.”
“Oh God no! That’s not what I meant at all! You’re a Goddess.” Johnny sat up nervously, covering himself with his hands. “I-I’ve never been with a girl like you, someone with ambition.”
“Are you serious?”
“Girls around here, they’re looking to hook their wagon to someone; earn their MRS degree. But not you. You’re going to leave North Dakota in your rearview mirror because you’re going to be a great doctor and change the world. I feel lucky just to have known you.”
Sara couldn’t help but smile. “You’re not just saying that because I, kind of, admitted to being a virgin?”
“That was a bit of a surprise. Do you really want me to be your first?” Johnny laid himself back down, not bothering to close his pants. “If I ruined the mood we just lay here and I can hold you.”
“You are just sweet as sugar.” Sara slipped off her panties. She took Johnny’s hands, placing them on her thighs. “You know what the song says, ‘Save a horse, ride a cowboy.’”
The adventure continues in Dakota Son-