Blake starts to hang around her while she’s working. Yang thinks that hanging out when they’re not having sex might be blurring the lines a little bit, but she enjoys the girl’s company so she doesn’t say anything.
She’s mucking out the horse stalls again while Blake sits cross-legged on a large bale of hay reading a book. It’s still technically summer, but the weather has taken a turn for the cooler, making it nice enough to actually enjoy the outdoors. Gambol stretches her long neck over the fence of the stall and nudges Yang’s pant leg with her nose.
“I think she likes you,” Blake says as she looks up from the page she’s on.
“Nah, I think she’s checking to see if I got any apples on me,” she laughs and extends her hand slowly to pet the mare on the muzzle. Surprisingly, Gambol allows it, then snorts and moves away back to her stall.
“Either way, she isn’t that skittish around you anymore. I’m glad. She’s been like that around strangers since she was a foal.”
“I ain’t exactly a stranger anymore,” Yang says with a smile and a wink.
Blake rolls her eyes. “You’d be surprised. She barely lets Sun near her without a fight, and he’s worked here for years.”
Yang laughs. “She must be a decent judge of character, then!”
“Ooh, I’ll tell him you said that,” Blake says mischievously.
“Go ahead. He should know that I don’t like him!” she smiles at the blatant lie and continues to swipe away the soiled straw bedding.
The sun shines in through the window, angling directly into Blake’s face. She squints at the light and gets up to lean against the fence and ogle Yang’s muscles while she works.
“What was it like growing up in a place like this?” Yang asks. She can’t imagine having this much. They grew up with practically nothing, thanks to their father’s life philosophy and also the fact that they were dirt poor.
“Boring, mostly,” she answers flatly.
“Really? I woulda been running around all over with the other kids, y’all have so much land.”
“I mostly kept to myself. I stayed inside and read a lot.”
“Well, all that reading paid off. You went to college!” Yang says with an unsure smile. Blake seems to be withdrawing in on herself at the mention of her childhood.
“You should tell that to my father,” Blake says, frowning.
“I take it he don’t approve?”
“He thinks college is a waste of money. He’d much rather me stay here for the rest of my life and take over the farm when he gets old.” Blake’s ears droop at the thought.
“What do you want to do when you’re done with school?” she asks quickly, trying to be as subtle as she can about changing the subject.
Blake perks up at the question. “I’d really like to teach! My bachelor’s is in English, but I’m going to grad school for education. I love kids, I really want to make a difference in their lives, ya know?”
Yang melts at the passion in her voice. She can tell that Blake wants to do important things, and this kind of life isn’t suited to that. Life on the farm moves slow. The tedious day-in and day-out doesn’t seem like something she would like. Yang, however, craves that kind of routine.
“You’d be a great teacher, Miss Belladonna,” Yang says earnestly, but there’s a hint of playfulness in her voice. She sets her pitchfork against the wall and leans over the gate to press a kiss to Blake’s neck.
Blake smiles and pushes her away, her nose wrinkled in disgust. “Thank you. No offense, though, but you smell like a horse.”
Yang sniffs her shirt, and she can see where Blake is coming from. “Alright then, I’ll keep my hands to myself.” She huffs and picks up her pitchfork to continue her work.
Blake laughs and pulls her back in to kiss her on the cheek. “I’m going to go see if my mom needs help with lunch, but come find me after you’ve showered.” She throws a wink over her shoulder as she leaves, and Yang can’t help but shiver with anticipation as she watches her go.
In the late afternoon Yang is riding with Ghira in his tractor down the length of the cornfields. As the summer is coming to a close, Ghira is beginning to think ahead to the arrival of autumn. The Belladonna’s always do a big corn maze during October and November that is a hit with the community. Today, he is taking Yang along with him while he inspects the growth of the corn to make sure that they’re on track to be fully developed by harvest.
Ghira puts the tractor in park next to the stalks, and hops off. He gestures for Yang to follow him as he approaches the corn. He does a quick measurement of the height of the stalk with a small tape measurer he keeps in his front overall pocket. He then breaks off an ear from the stalk with a calloused hand, he holds it out to Yang.
“Xiao Long, do you know how to tell if corn is ready to be picked?”
She shakes her head as she takes the vegetable in hand. “Can’t say I do, sir. Haven’t had the opportunity to work much with crops.”
“So when these guys are close to being done, they get these silk hairs on the top of ‘em, and when those turn brown, you know they’re ready,” he says as he points at the top of the ear in her hand. “Shuck that one for me.”
Yang obediently pulls back the fresh green husk, to reveal the kernels inside. To her surprise, the kernels are clear.
“You also want to wait until the kernels are a milky color, ‘cause then you know for sure that they’re good and ready to be eaten. These stalks look like they’ll be tall enough by fall for the corn maze.”
A big smile splits on Yang’s face at the new information. Knowledge and experience are powerful tools when you’re working on a farm. If she’s being honest, her dream is to one day own her own small farm, and having Ghira as her mentor has helped in ways that money never could.
“Wow, thank you for showing me! I didn’t know any of that,” she says happily as she hands the corn back to him.
“You’re quite welcome, miss. It makes me happy that you care about this stuff. I wish my daughter were more like you,” Ghira admits as he swings back into the driver seat.
Yang chuckles, “Yeah well, she’s got her own interests! Your daughter is too smart for her own good.”
Ghira’s brow furrows as they ride slowly back to the farm. “I want to give her all of this, and she doesn’t want any of it,” he gestures to the farm’s skyline as they break through the corn fields.
She starts to realize that this is becoming a more serious conversation than she thought. “Farming just ain’t for everyone, I suppose,” she says casually, trying to get him to lighten up.
“This farm has been in our family for generations, Xiao Long. She sure as hell better wisen up, learn that it is for her, and give up on this ‘college’ crap. She doesn’t need to go to school for two more years when we need her help here.” His voice is raised, and while Yang may not be as smart as someone like Blake, she knows when to shut her mouth. They ride in silence back to the house, and she thinks that if Ghira knew how passionate Blake is about teaching, he might change his mind.
Once Yang has showered in the small bath house behind the main household, she finds herself below Blake’s bedroom window, tossing pebbles gently at the glass. It’s a one story house, so she shouldn’t have any problems climbing through the window. Blake pulls the curtain away with a confused look, but when she sees Yang she smiles and opens the window.
“Are you clean?” she calls to Yang.
Yang points to her still drying hair. “Just got out of the shower. Let me in!”
Blake gestures for her to haul herself through the open window. Yang obeys and is inside of the room within seconds. Blake’s childhood bedroom is exactly what Yang expected it would be. There are books everywhere, and on the stand next to her bed is a framed photo of a young Blake smiling brightly with her mother and father, a front tooth missing from her mouth. She looks...really happy. Yang wonders what happened to that version of her.
Blake snakes her arms around Yang’s waist and rests her head on her strong shoulder, glancing down at the picture.
“I think I was eight when that was taken,” she mumbles into the fabric of Yang’s shirt, breathing in the smell of her shampooed hair.
“You were a cute kid,” Yang says with a fond smile as she turns to give Blake a kiss on the cheek
Blake scoffs at this and moves away from her to lie back on the bed. Her hands find a place on her stomach as she regards the farmhand standing in the middle of her room. Yang fiddles with her shirt awkwardly but then moves to sit next to Blake. The bed dips as she settles in, and the warmth of Yang’s body next to hers is comforting.
“I talked to your dad a bit today about you. You’re right, he really ain’t keen on you going back to school.”
Blake sighs and shuts her eyes. “If he won’t pay for it, I’m going to take out loans and get a job. I’m not going to let him keep me here.”
She feels a sharp pang at the thought of Blake leaving. The amount of disdain she has for this town doesn’t make much sense to her, but she knows there’s reasons for it Blake hasn’t shared yet.
“I mean, it’s not all bad, right?” Yang asks hopefully. She hopes that Blake at least finds some sort of comfort in their friendship.
Blake moves to lay on her side and smiles at her. She knows exactly what Yang is asking.
“No, not all of it. I’ve met some pretty cool people,” she leans in and kisses her softly.
Yang chuckles and a smile breaks over her face during the kiss. “Wow, you gotta introduce me to them sometime.”
Blake pulls back and rolls her eyes playfully. She lies back and stares at the ceiling, a frown slowly settling on her face as she gets lost in thought. Yang joins her in staring at the ceiling, and she reaches down carefully to grasp Blake’s hand in her own. She doesn’t know exactly why Blake is so dead set on leaving this town behind completely, but she does know that she wants her to be happy. Rationally, she knows that eventually Blake will leave, and that will mean leaving her behind as well. What they have is nothing more than a fling, and she’s known that since they started. But all of this rationalizing does nothing to ease the dull pain in her chest.