Part 2. The Passion Builds . . .

And so, he in his world, her in hers. Alone, yet together. The Iowa winters can be cold. An Iowa home without love is like an unlit stove. Full of potential. But potential and the internet can’t keep the Iowa wind from blowing and chilling your bones.

Secretly and ever so slowly, their passion was building. Building like the foundation of an Amish barn. One brick, or dare I say it, one click at a time.

The winter came and went, and the crops were planted, then harvested. Once more, the cycle was completed. Knee-high by the fourth of July was the norm for Iowa corn, but the summer and autumn would see no growth in their love. Their secret passion lay dormant like hordes of buried cicadas. Maybe in seven years, maybe eleven, before the sticky wings of their love would emerge like thousands of pupae yearning to mate.

This winter, there would be no Kevin Costner in her field of dreams, or so she thought. For him, half-forgotten images of their youth filled his dreams. They met at the State Fair twenty long years ago. The arm-wrestling contest was a lark, a dare from friends. It would seal their fate, but that was the following year. They first met the season prior; she had just won second prize for the heaviest sow. He was delivering hay when their eyes met. The job paid seven dollars a day but more than enough to buy her that corn dog and funnel cake she had always cherished. While the eight-hundred-pound pig dined on Fred Quiglinger’s finest alfalfa, the two lovers, mere children that they were, snuck away for a stolen kiss in the night under Iowa stars.

But working at the feedstore left him little time to daydream. Chickens needed corn, and the hay needed delivering. Promotions had been tough over the years, but still, he was proud to be driving the delivery truck. Well, driving when Charlie Walkensworth was out sick, or it was a weekend, and there was a feedlot emergency. Charlie was a big man, close to three hundred pounds; his left eye was stuck in neutral, not cross-eyed or dead. His left eye just seemed to float and roam about like that big carp in the fishpond down at the feed store. He also reeked of tobacco juice. A bad habit he picked up in the third grade when the pressure of failing Citizenship sent him into therapy at the local Lutheran Church. But still, Big Chuck had seniority; he was also the owner’s son.

It was bound to happen eventually. The history file was still there, nothing on TV, and he was tired of sitting in the delivery truck’s hot seat, playing second fiddle to reeking Chuck, the lazy owner’s son. She was bored too. The cards were cloudy and didn’t speak; the cards were silent and bleak, just like the winters in Iowa. Just silent, grey, and overcast. She’d had this pain in her stomach all day, and now she was just tired. Tired of feeling like that errant single sock in the damp misty hamper of life. Did she mention it first? Or was it him? No, never him. He’d be too embarrassed. She just didn’t care anymore.

“Well? Well, are we? Sure. Why not? What did you say? I said, are we ever going to go? Go where? You very well know what I’m talking about! Don’t change the subject. What subject? Really, Clifford. I really don’t know you anymore. Oh, for crying out loud. I had a tough day. A hard day Clifford? A hard day smelling Chuck’s farts? Sitting on your ass? Yeah, you had a bad day.”

The conversation could have gone on like this for hours. They often did. But for some reason, maybe riding in the cab of that old rundown delivery truck, there was a weakness in the marriage forcefield. The kind of protection that grows around a marriage gone sour. A wall that insulates one from the torment of the other.

“Well, fine. What the hell? We don’t need a new riding mower this summer anyway. Besides, Jerry and Sheryl’s cow eats most of our grass. See! It’s always about you, Clifford. It’s always about you. I was going to buy the mower for you, he started to say but didn’t. Fine, let’s just go to Jamacia. What the hell. Does it have to be with you? She thought.