The second time I saw Katrina was about two weeks later. I had spent the evening at Josie’s, after another rough day at home, and I was picking my way through the fields in the dark. When I came out on the other side of the Whitleys’ property, there she was. Just sitting with her arms hugging her knees, dead in the middle of Mr. Whitley’s pasture, watching the cows.
I stood there for a while watching her, I guess kinda creepy-like. She looked beautiful. Katrina always looks beautiful. I could just barely make out her silhouette and she was facing away from me, but I knew it was her. I finally called out to her. She turned super fast, like I had shot off a gun or something and scared her.
I couldn’t really see her face good, but she didn’t look particularly thrilled to see me. It was really late, about 3:00 in the morning, and I remember wondering what in the world she was doing all alone at that time. She didn’t say anything to me then; she just turned around and continued staring.
Too bad I wasn’t going away that easy. So I walked up to her and sat down without saying a word. It took me a minute or two, but I finally realized she was crying. I asked if she was all right, but she didn’t say anything. I felt really uncomfortable, so I started rambling on about some story about my brother Beau and the first time he had to wake up and milk the cows. It’s a pretty good story. Beau was so tired he ended up dozing off and fell into the bucket of milk and busted his nose. There was blood all in the milk and my dad was super pissed, but I left that part out, just told the funny.
Katrina didn’t laugh, but she didn’t tell me to go away neither. She just sat there. She wasn’t crying anymore, so I took that as a good sign and started telling another story about the first time Josie ever jumped off of one of the swings at Lila’s and how he pissed his pants he was so scared, but nobody knew since he was all wet from the lake anyways. Before I even got two sentences in, she cut me off. She was real bitchy. Something along the lines of she couldn’t care less about my idiot brother or my idiot friend and wished I hadn’t invited myself over and wasn’t sure if I was trying to hit on her or be her friend but either way it wasn’t working.
I shut up.
But I didn’t leave. She was upset, so I figured she was just taking it out on me. I couldn’t just leave her there in the field, crying that late at night. I sat there forever, Mrs. Lucas. Probably an hour. Finally, she sighed real deep and started telling me stuff. She was going on about parents sucking and this town sucking and her life sucking, but I wasn’t really sure what she was talking about. I just let her vent. She ended up telling me she was staying with the Whitleys, that’s why she was in their field. Her mom had dumped her and Mrs. Whitley was her aunt. When I asked about her dad, she just laughed. I joked with her, said she should ask about mine. She smirked, so I thought I was getting somewhere.
Katrina and I sat there until the sun came up. I was tired, but I had too many thoughts to care. I kept thinking that here she was, my new neighbor. And, boy, was she beautiful.
From then on out, I saw Katrina all the time. I think that was on purpose. She learned my schedule, and every time I would come in at lunch, she’d be sitting on the porch at the Whitleys’. She’d wave and we’d say hey, sometimes more. Sometimes my other brother Seth was with me, and he would tease me about her all afternoon. I never let her see my dad. I went out of my way to assure that Katrina and my dad never met. But she met my baby siblings, Jasper and Audrey, my dad and my step-mother’s kids, and they loved her.
Finally one day, they were begging so much that my step-mother made me take them over to play with her in the evening. Jasper reached the front door first and he banged and banged. I was real nervous. I mean, I’d been to the Whitleys’ plenty; Mrs. Whitley used to watch us some when we were little. But the house was so different to me with a girl inside it. Mrs. Whitley answered the door and let us in, and Jasper and Audrey found Katrina quick. They played for a couple hours and I sat in the living room and watched them with Mr. Whitley. He kept talking to me about the crops and the weather and my dad and the town and all the gossip. I just let him talk. I didn’t say a word to Katrina either that day.
But that night, I couldn’t sleep and when I finally got so fed up that I decided to just pull an all-nighter, she was outside again, in the Whitleys’ field. But this time she was expecting me. She was sitting facing me, and as I walked out of the house, she waved a little. I joined her on the grass and one of the cows came over and looked at us all curiously. She laughed and told me she’d never petted a cow before, so of course I made her. She squealed. Scared the shit out of me. I don’t think I’ve ever really heard someone squeal before that. We talked for awhile, then finally got quiet and I fell asleep right there. I woke up with the sun, well after 5:00 am. Katrina was long gone.