That’s what they said I said when I finally woke up. I don’t remember so maybe I wasn’t as awake as they thought but it was a beginning. I did remember the second time. It sounded like there were angry squirrels in the room. I turned my head and spotted Kelly and the boys pitching a fit as some woman tried to lead them from the room. I wasn’t having it and rolled off the cot that I had been laying on trying to stand and get to them.
The children screamed and suddenly the room was too full of people. Jax picked me up and laid me back on the pallet despite the fact that I was fighting him. “Don’t let her … take them …”
It took a few more minutes before things were sorted. The children had snuck away during lunch to come see me and the woman, one of the classroom aides, had been trying take them back to their class. From that point on I improved though my mouth was so sore that talking was difficult. And that made it even more difficult that people wouldn’t stop talking to me. I was questioned by federal investigators. The old gang stopped by, ostensibly to cheer me up and cheer me on. The kids were non-stop magpies though that didn’t really bother me except that it was hard to answer their many questions. And then there was Jax.
Jax looked awful. I hadn’t seen him like this since … well the first dam incident.
“I’m not that hurt,” I said slowly. “I don’t see why I can’t just go back to the farm.”
“Because … because I … I …”
“Enough Jax, just let it go.”
“You don’t believe me.”
“I suppose I do. I’ve had enough people tell me I should.”
“But that’s not you. You don’t believe me.”
“I believe you … that you didn’t do anything.”
“Jax, just let it go.”
“Jax, I’m asking you to just … let … this … go.”
He would have said more but he was called away to an emergency. And by that time I had gotten enough of my energy back that I refused to discuss it anymore and finally Jax didn’t have any choice but to accept that.
Two days later I had had enough. I explained to the children that just like their father needed to be a doctor and take care of people I needed to go back to the farm and take care of it. I just wasn’t made for town life … or for people sticking their noses into my business.
“Will you go away forever?”
“Of course not Kelly. Besides …”
Jax came into the room and said, “Besides, we’ll be there with her.”
The children were speechless. I was simply suspicious.
“You have your work,” I told him. “Important work.”
“I also have a family. The town has agreed to hire two more trained medical personnel … one of them is even going to be a trained surgeon. I … I still need to come in but it won’t be for seven days a week for such long shifts.”
“You need …”
“I need my family.” He was looking at me so intensely I could only nod in resignation.
We rode back to the farm in the hybrid-conversion van and were met by Johnson who seemed relieved to see Jax. I got out and made my way inside to the kitchen and stood wondering what to fix for their supper.
Jax came in to find me and said, “I’ll fix …”
All three kids yelped, “No!”
For some reason that struck me funny and then I remembered when he’d first come to the farm and insisted on eating the toast he had burnt and all I could do was hurry back out of the house and to the barn only there was no King Kong to cry to, he’d passed away the year before, already much older than most rabbits of his species, the last of my brother’s “pets” to pass.
“I just needed some air Jax. I’ll be right there.”
Instead of letting me by he tentatively pulled me into his arms. “I’m sorry. I know it doesn’t make things better but … I’m sorry. I guess I … I guess I just didn’t want to see what was happening.”
“Jax I told you I didn’t …”
“I know what you said Lydie but I just … I just can’t let it go.”
“Well you’re going to have to if you want us to move forward.”
“Can we? Can we move forward?”
“Do you want to?”
“God yes. Of course.”
“Then let it go. Matt was always really good at finding the chinks in people’s armor. I don’t know why. Most of the time it was too stupid easy for him to get away with it. It was just his talent. But he’s gone. This time for good. We managed to survive him before. Let’s just … let’s just survive him this time too.”
Was it easy? No. We were a long time dealing with how easy … how too easy … it had been to separate us. Jax had needs. I thought I was supporting those needs … maybe too much support if that makes sense. He thought I didn’t need him anymore or that he could prove himself or something … never have been completely clear what it was. Jax never seemed to be completely clear about how he’d gone so far down a road that he’d almost gotten lost.
But eventually we grew up a little more. Found out we both had faults and weaknesses that we hadn’t realized were there. They weren’t big faults, big weaknesses, not individually but put together and acted on they nearly destroyed us. We found out it is usually the little stuff that will trip you up the most. We had thought dealing with the big stuff, triumphing over Matt the first time, that we’d won our own personal war. And we had … but just like the world had failed to completely heal, so had we. But from that point we did start healing … a healthy healing though there were set backs.
At one point I was in danger of sliding back into the loneliness and self-isolation that had been my go-to protection protocol, but then Jax up and convinced me to join some committee or other in town that was looking for sustainable living plans. And it grew from there. The farm was and still is my primary pursuit but I finally opened up to other experiences. The children were growing like weeds and then Jax and I added a few more to our team roster. We’ve been lucky that they all turned out more human than enviro-geek but a couple of the grandkids … well, you can’t have everything I suppose. Kelly laughs when I say that. She followed her father in to the medical field as did the boys. Some of the younger kids have taken a swipe or two at farming but it didn’t stick. It makes me a bit sad but then again, I’m an elder and older … but I don’t feel so old I have to worry about what these days they call estate planning just yet.
Jax still works in town but only on special cases and for friends. He teaches more than anything these days. Some of his students are horrified by the stories he tells of the “old days.” But then he’ll get a call from one where they’re blessing him for teaching them survival medicine because they were able to use it and save a life. I hope those skills aren’t lost. Just like I hope small scale farming isn’t lost. Machines can’t do it all regardless of the techno-snobs’ opinions.
Perhaps it is going to seem anticlimactic to some but I guess the bottom line for this memoir is that … life happens. You might try and white wash it but eventually the stains will come through. Like with Matt. We tried to do it not once, but twice. He really was certifiable when he fell over the edge of the old dam trying to run away. At least I think he fell. There’s some that says he jumped … some that said he was pushed. I’m not sure I want to know. Regardless it was tragic. And yes, despite all the evil that Matt did I can still say his death was tragic.
What was his father’s betrayal? At some point his father realized how unstable Matt was. It was likely when he found out about how he was continuing to manipulate people to try and get back to the town to reboot his “empire.” No one will ever know exactly what happened. They didn’t find Matt’s father’s body for almost a week. But the notes that his father had left, found after Matt’s own death, indicated he’d meant to take his son to a mental health facility and quietly have him committed, that he’d hoped that it was simply a form of PTSD or something similar, and eventually he and Matt would continue working together for the betterment of mankind. Matt’s father was a bit of a narcissist but how different things might have been had he succeeded in getting Matt sufficient help.
But none of that came out for years. Out west Matt had a following. I wouldn’t say it quite qualified as a cult but it wasn’t far from it … and he was held up as some kind of martyr for many years. Then like always, the stains started showing through the white wash and the truth came out. For those of us left from that time, rehashing it was sometimes painful but so’s life on occasion. Either way it didn’t destroy us anymore than Matt had been able to destroy us while he was alive. It reinforced that it isn’t the outside that matters, it isn’t always how smart or dumb you are either, it is what is on the inside in your heart. Your motivations are what truly dictate who you are.
And the years have continued to roll by. Some of the old gang didn’t last that long in this new world. Some of them thrived in it … and still do. Their stories are their stories. I’ll let them tell it if they want to.