It wasn’t anyone else’s job to tell her the truth. She wasn’t sure anyone else even knew. As far as she knew, everyone thought she was the life of the party. A party girl. A good time girl. Trouble.

Part of that image was her own doing. She’d been told a rumor by a friend that word was she had gotten into some major trouble in the city and her folks had shipped her out to the mountains to get her life in order. Cause what kind of trouble could she possibly get up to in a small mountain town. Ha! As soon as she heard the rumor she decided to have some fun with it. She painted her nails black. She flooded her social media with posts about drinking at the local, sunbathing naked in her backyard, and partying til last call.

She wasn’t lying. She did those things. Happily did those things. But that wasn’t her and never had been. If anything her life before was a bit of a bore, if you don’t include her college years, which she didn’t. College was four years of making up for missing out on the partying she never did in high school. It was four years of being lonely, confused, and going completely fucking wild because there finally wasn’t anyone telling her she couldn’t. But everyone did that…didn’t they? So it didn’t count.

And after college life became boring. Predictable. Mundane.

She got the job. She got the boyfriend. She got the house. She got white picket fence. She got the 2.3 dogs, because seriously who even has children anymore? Who can afford to? And even if you could, who wants to give up their freedom? Their ability to be selfish? Not her.

And that was her life.

Until one day, her parents bought a place in the mountains. A beautiful place they could retire to in a couple of years. Ten acres, no neighbors, a horse property, with four seasons, and honest to goodness snow in the winter. It was a dream. They needed a caretaker. She offered to do it. Immediately. Begged to do it.

So here she was: Trouble.

It was hilarious. Until it wasn’t. It was fun. Until the rumors got out of hand. Suddenly she was sleeping with peoples husbands. Suddenly she was into drugs. The rumors were out of control. And they would be horrifying if they were true.

She did the first thing she could think to do to solve it: she took a boyfriend. The first single guy she’d met who made it clear he wasn’t afraid of her. The first single guy she’d met who was tall and hopefully intimidating enough to put an end to the rumors. And it worked. She didn’t hear another rumor again for nearly a year.

By then she’d broken up with that guy and fallen in with another. By then that second guy had ended too. And since a week had gone by without her hitching her star to someone else’s sky, the rumors began again. Only now her phone was ringing with fearful wives. Damned if she was gonna jump in with any old soul to calm the waters though. No way no how. She’d learned it did nothing but cause her to leap before she looked.

Ignoring the rumors and trying to ignore the phone calls she went back to her life as best she could. Her life. Her real life. The life of animals to care for: chickens, ducks, geese, and goats. Books to read: the myriad tomes that had filled her living space for a year gathering dust. Bingeworthy shows to watch: shows with dragons and zombies. Volunteering to continue: raising money for the local school. A new job to start: her dream job at a book store.

Slowly her life began to slow back to that boring, predictable, mundane only this time around it was pretty near perfect. Pretty near, if it weren’t so lonely. A dog is a great companion during the day, but at night the dog could only participate in a monologue. The dog couldn’t pick a clan or a character to root for. The dog couldn’t interrupt her reading to bring her a cup of tea.

She had hired a man to re-do her bathroom once and she called him again to do some work in her barn. And then some work around the grounds. And then some more work to the house. He was there every morning telling his workers what they were to work on that day and then again every afternoon to check their work and their progress. He’d always give her a run down after the workers had knocked off for the day. And the rundowns slowly took longer and longer to finish each day.

She’d occasionally borrow a tool from him: a drill or a pitchfork. Something she should own, did own, but that broke and hadn’t been replaced yet. She’d borrow his and then return it, if she hadn’t broken it. Like the pitchfork. How do you break a pitchfork? She managed it. He insisted the damn thing had been old and worthless long before she ever got her hands on it and it was no big deal. But she felt terrible. Offered to buy him a beer at the local to make up for it.

Next thing they knew they were hanging out at the local together every night. But there was nothing going on. Not yet. Lots of long looks and intimate conversation masked in loud laughter and gatherings with other friends.

~~~That’s an hour~~~

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