Full Circle – Part 1

Linda’s eyes opened as the brakes squealed and the bus came to a stop. Every bone in her body ached, and the fatigue felt like a weighted blanket pinning her to the seat. She forced herself to sit upright and stretch slowly. The other passengers aboard were beginning to prepare for unloading.

“Young lady, you’d best get up and get your luggage down, the bus pulled into the depot a few minutes ago.” An older lady said across the aisle from her.

She nodded and slowly moved to the edge of the aisle seat, before stiffly getting to her feet and unlatching the bin directly overhead. Linda grabbed her backpack and lowered it to the ground. Apart from the purse slung across her body, this was all she had left in the world.

The line of people in the aisle had grown in the last few minutes. She simply turned and took her place. It was only a moment or two before people began to disembark.

A cold blast of air slammed into her sideways as her feet hit the ground. Linda clenched her teeth and kept moving into the terminal. There were people all around her being met by relatives, but there would be no one like that for her. She found her way to the front door and couldn’t believe her eyes. The world was completely white.

“Excuse me, I don’t mean to be a bother…”

It was the same older lady who had go her moving back in the bus. “You’re not bothering me at all. Thanks for the nudge back on the bus, I was half asleep and didn’t know what was going on.”

“That much was very evident, my dear. I’ve never seen someone sleep as deeply aboard a bus hurtling down the highway…”

“I was exhausted. I’m sorry, my name is Linda.”

“I am Abigail Masters, but please call me Abbey.” The older lady said as her brown eyes met Lisa’s blue ones.

“Nice to meet you, Abbey. Are you from Saskatchewan?”

“Born and raised here. I’m guessing by your reaction to the blizzard outside, that you’re not. I got on the bus in Toronto, after a visit with my grandkids.”

“I boarded at the starting point of this trip in Fredericton, New Brunswick. No, I have never been to Saskatchewan, and I’ve never seen a prairie blizzard. We had snow in the winter there, but I don’t remember a white out like this.”

“Linda, is someone meeting you here?”

She looked at the woman for a moment, wondering how much to say. “No, I need to find a really cheap motel or a shelter for the night. Do you know of any close by?”

Abbey looked at her backpack and purse, before answering. “I was your age once and found myself in a similar situation. A stranger helped me and I am wondering if you would allow this older lady to do the same as long as you promise to pay it forward some day.”

Linda stared at the other woman for longer than was comfortable for either of them. “I’m sorry… you caught me off guard. I never… I mean I wasn’t…”

“It’s okay. I know how you’re feeling right now, or I have a pretty good idea. Would you do me the favour of being my guest for as long as you need a bed, food and a bit of company, if you like.”

“I don’t have much money.”

“That doesn’t matter. This won’t cost you a penny. I live alone and have one big guest room. It will be just the two of us and I don’t have any friends left to drop by anymore, so I think we may be doing each other an act of kindness.”

“If you’re sure it’s not too much trouble…”

Abbey turned and motioned for her to follow. Linda pulled the hood of her parka over her head, reached into her pockets and quickly pulled out some old gloves and stepped out into the blizzard.

The truck was huge. She tucked her backpack behind the passenger seat before she climbed in and slammed the door shut. A puff of snow hit her square in the face. Abbey laughed as she pulled onto road leading out of Swift Current and then onto the Trans Canada Highway. She slowed and turned onto an unmarked road leading away from the highway.

“When it’s not covered in snow and ice, this is a gravel road. The farm I have was given to me by a stranger, who became family. Eloise Gerhardt and her husband Hans had this farm right up until the day Hans passed. Eloise was heartbroken and she asked me to promise her that I would carry on the family tradition. I agreed, but hadn’t the foggiest idea of what I was getting myself into…”

Linda listened intently as she stared out the truck window, watching the dance of the snowflakes outside the window. It was mesmerizing and not so bad as long as a person was warm inside a vehicle or house.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to bore you into a catatonic state.”

Abbey’s voice interrupted Linda’s thoughts. “OH! No, you aren’t. I have a bad habit of daydreaming and watching the snowflakes dance outside was so beautiful, I kind of tuned out. My apologies, you were saying that the people who helped you became like family and even left their farm to you… that’s pretty cool, but a lot of work. My great-grandfather was a farmer and he lost his land in the Great Depression.”

“So many did. I can remember my own grandfather telling stories of the friends and neighbours who walked away from their farms or were evicted.” Abbey’s voice faded away as she reminisced,

Linda said nothing, leaving the older woman to sort through her memories. That was something she couldn’t allow herself to do, so she slammed the emotional door of her heart tight. Exhaustion took over as she lay her head against the cold window.

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