He knows his sister hadn’t wanted to come home.
It’s not as if he’s forced her, either. He had barely said anything about it but as their parents’ will was discussed and the future of the farm had been up in the air like that… Thom can’t deny that he had mentioned that perhaps they could take care of it together.
He hadn’t really meant the farm, though.
Clara is the one who used to help dad out with the crop and spend her spare time fishing because she enjoyed selling the produce at the farmer’s market. Mostly, he knew already back then, to save up for stuff she wanted, like computers and clothes. She’s always been one to set a goal and aim for it whereas Thom is slow, a careful little boy their mother told him gently when he was a kid and he catches himself missing her now, again.
“I think we should sell it,” Clara says when they have spent their first night as grown-up orphans in their childhood home that suddenly seems too small for them. Had it been enough back then? He can’t remember missing anything, growing up.
“Just like that?”
She shrugs. “It’s a farm, T. I don’t want to be a farmer.”
He thinks about their mother again. About their father, emerging from the barn when the dusk set in only to leave the house at first light. My grandmother founded this farm, he used to say, the pride swelling within the words until it had felt awkward to hear it. Thom had been an uncomfortable teenager, full of shame for everything and everyone and their father had been an expressive man, full of sentimentality and kindness. They had clashed, intensely, and he feels a vague sort of guilt for it now.
“It’s a family business,” he protests. “Dad wouldn’t want-”
“He’s dead.” Clara’s voice is harsh, which usually means she’s upset but doesn’t want it to show. Once, when she was 16 and he was 12 he had borrowed her moped and crashed into a tree and she had shouted at him for half an hour while he bled from an injury on his forehead. Then, when she thought he was asleep that night, she had slipped into his bed and wrapped her arms around him, pressing a kiss to his temple. “They’re both dead.”
“I know.” Thom sighs. After a moment Clara sighs too and looks at him for a long time. Neither of them speak.
There’s something about the place, Thom thinks later, as he walks Bonzai around the neighbourhood. They got him when Thom was still in school and he’s getting really old now but still enjoys his walks and his sniffing around in every bush they pass.
There’s something about it. Maybe it’s just childhood nostalgia, maybe it’s grief. He hadn’t counted on losing both his parents in a car crash, after all. Hadn’t counted on being left with so many strings attached to their still active lives, their entire existence that keeps happening even after the funeral. People they know, things they had planned, a whole farm full of harvest-in-the-making and bills to pay.
He had moved out as soon as he graduated high school, eager to rent something small and cheap downtown after a whole life of cows and fish and potato crops. Back then it had felt like he was finally going to be in the right place. Now he isn’t so certain any more.
“You don’t want to sell this place, do you?” Clara stands by the silly wooden sign when he returns. Their mother had insisted on keeping it there, like some memory of days gone by. The Hiller Farm, letters carved in tree. “You want to keep the legacy alive?”
He can’t tell from her tone if she’s mocking him or not but he decides not to care.
“Something like that.”
“I’ll support you, you know,” she says the following day. “If you want to remain here. I can… stay behind for a while, too. Help you get it going. If you want?”
Thom frows, momentarily confused. “What about your writing?”
For as long as he can remember, Clara has wanted to be a writer and for as long as he can remember, their parents had told her she would never be able to write for a living. It’s a hobby, not a real job. Now she shrugs.
“I can write from here, too.”
* No idea why my pic quality is so low and ugly, I will look into the settings for next update.
* First family introduction, yay! I’ve rolled 6 families and will be posting their intros as soon as I can.