The spicy honey sent a chill down Tandy’s spine. She pulled her honey laced finger out of her mouth slowly and looked over at the young girl. “I think I’d like a jar of that to take home. $5 you said?”
“Yes ma’am. $5.” The young girl with blonde highlights smiled back.
“What’s in it?” Tandy asked as she reached in her purse and grabbed her red wallet. She slowly unzipped it, making sure to not drop any coins. “Do you have change for a $20?”
“Yes ma’am. It has a hint of jalapeno!” The young girl pulled her fanny pack around from her back to her stomach. She unzipped her pack and pulled out three five dollar bills. “Here you go!”
Tandy gave her the twenty dollar bill, trying to get another lick of her finger. She placed the three bills in her wallet and zipped it back up. The little girl handed her a jar of jalapeño honey. “Do you need a bag, ma’am?” She asked.
“Yes, please.” Tandy took the honey and placed it in the brown bag with string handles. The bag read “Brussel Farms”. This farm was known for their strawberry picking and perfectly manicured bee colonies. Tandy made sure to stop by their station each time she came to the farmer’s market.
Today, she was mostly just perusing, looking for nothing in particular. A few weeks ago she bought fresh fruit and a beautiful bouquet of flowers to place on her kitchen table. The flowers came with the most unique glass vase. It was curved, as if someone took the time to make it shaped like a perfectly beautiful ballerina. The vase made the flowers more beautiful than they would have ordinarily been. The colors danced like the ballerina’s legs; pinks, blues, greens, and off white baby’s breath.
Tandy licked her finger once again before walking off after giving the little girl a smile. She roped her in by giving her the free sample. You can tell this little girl has done this before. Tandy walked past the jewelry tables and the art tables. She walked through the many fruit and jarred pickle stands. But with the brightness of the mid-day sun, something caught her eye.
There was a table across from her with perfectly carved wooden decorative home pieces. Some were large, some were small. She saw bookends and figurines. Side tables and picture frames. But the item that stood out the most, was the wooden platter with golden handles. The handles shimmered under the sun. Tandy walked over for a closer inspection.
“Good Afternoon ma’am. Do you see anything you like?” Levi asked as he panned his hand over the display of wooden items on his table. He stood there staring at Tandy, admiring her thick, curly hair.
Tandy moved closer staring so intently at the platter that she didn’t notice Levi staring at her. “Yes, I like this one!” She said as she pointed to the platter. “Did you make these yourself?” At that moment, Tandy looked up.
Levi smiled. He had such a beautiful smile. His teeth did not have perfect spacing or optimal whiteness, but his smile was warm. It drew her in. “I do. Would you like to touch it?” He asked.
Tandy looked at him hesitantly, “The platter right?”
“Ha ha!! Of course.” He let out a belly laugh. “That’s the best laugh I’ve had all day ma’am.”
“I’m just checking.” She snickered feeling like he meant something more. Tandy reached out and picked up the platter. She rubbed her hand across the inside. “Sturdy!”
“Yes it is. I made sure of it myself.” He replied.
“How did you get the handles like this?” Tandy admired the spirals carved into the golden handles. She gently slid her pointer finger across the indentations in the carving.
“Ma’am, I don’t kiss and tell. I mean, I can’t share my family secrets. We’d hate for you to take our ideas and run.”
Tandy could tell he definitely meant what he said. She was about to open her mouth for a comeback when another gentleman interrupted.
“Ma’am, this piece is $25. Do you want it or not?” He asked abruptly, giving a stern look to Levi.
“Actually, we’re having a sale today. I’ll give it to you for $15.” Levi winked. The older gentleman pulled Levi’s arm and dragged him to the side.
Tandy stood there not understanding what was happening. She could not hear what they were talking about. She could tell there was some tension brewing. So, she decided to head out. She slid her bagged honey’s straps further up her arm and she began walking towards her car. The sun was beginning to show signs of evening coming.
Once she got in the car, she placed her bagged honey on the passenger seat and whipped the tendrils of her curly hair into a quick updo and secured it with the hair tie from her wrist. She cranked up the car and slowly made her way down the windy dirt road. It would take her more than sixty minutes to make it back to Philadelphia. She loved the quiet, country drive to the outskirts of Lancaster.
Once she got onto the paved road, she increased her speed. She drove bopping her head left and right listening to her favorite female MCs. Her music was loud, bass pumping so hard that the water bottle she kept in the cup holder vibrated in pain. Occasionally letting out plastic pops due to lack of water inside. So loud, in fact, she didn’t hear the beep indicating she needed gas. Her car began to slow down, which caught her attention. She looked at the dashboard, “Shit!” She slowly pulled her car to the side of the road.
It was getting dark. She pulled out her phone to call for help. Dead. Her battery was completely dead. Her car concert ended like a stripper who attended Junior’s party on Player’s Club. She sat there in complete silence, in the dark, crying. She decided to step out of the car in hopes of someone passing by to help her. She grabbed her light jacket from the back of her car and stepped outside, making sure to keep her keys in her hand. She did not want to be locked out of her car in the night, on this dark back road.
After pining a few minutes, she saw head lights coming around the bend. She raised her hands up waving, hoping to catch their attention. The car kept going. A short while later, she saw more lights. Then, she saw red as they passed her by. After waiting what felt like an eternity, she heard loud steps. She became worried because she had never heard anything like this before. She jumped back into the car for safety.
As the noise grew louder, she placed her head in the center of her steering wheel praying that it wasn’t a killer or a large animal that could maul her car open. Suddenly the noise stopped, but she was too frightened to look up and stare the monster in the face. She heard three heavy taps on the driver side window. She felt herself shaking uncontrollably.
“Hey, are you ok ma’am? It’s late!”
Tandy recognized the way the voice said ma’am. She looked up at the window. “Hey! How are you?”
“I’m good. Are you ok?” Levi asked.
“No! I’m out of gas. And I’m guessing, you don’t have any huh?!” She began to cry again.
“Can you open the door? I can barely hear you!”
Tandy opened her car door. “I guess you don’t have any gas, huh?!” She looked at the horse and buggy he rode in on. She sat with her legs hanging out of the driver side.
Thunder began to roar in the distance. Levi looked up. “We can’t stay here. There’s a storm coming.”
“What are we going to do? Is there a hotel nearby?”
“Oh girl! Do you know where you are?” Levi laughed.
“Not really. I’m not usually out here this late. I just live a few minutes away, in the city.”
“Listen, you are in the heart of Amish country. There aren’t any hotels near here. You’re will need to come with me until morning. It’s not safe out here for you, if you know what I mean.”
“What do you mean? What’s Amish?” Tandy was confused.
“Listen. I’m Levi. This community has strict rules. I don’t have time to explain everything out here or we’ll be spending the night in your car. Get in the buggy.”
Tandy grabbed her purse from the passenger seat and slammed the door behind her. She locked her car, then dropped her keys into her purse. She climbed up into the buggy and sat beside Levi. “I’m Tandy!”
The ride to Levi’s farm was bumpy, causing Tandy to occasionally bump into Levi. As the pair made the turn to pull onto his land, the sky broke open. Rain began to pour down and streaks of light danced across the sky. Tandy dropped her head down and covered it with her purse. Levi paused in front of the barn, jumping down to swing the large doors open.
He drove the buggy into the barn steadily, making sure to not cause a noticeable stir. He backed the wagon into a corner and jumped out. He ran over near the door and lit a small oil lamp; he closed the barn doors. He walked back over and unlatched the horse. Tandy watched his every move. He walked the horse over to the other end of the barn, where her stall was. Afterwards, he came back over to Tandy; he helped her get down.
As her hand was in his, she could feel the heat between them. She admired his half buttoned white textured shirt. One tail in and the other hanging out. His hair was going this way and that from the breeze and rain. She stared, taking all of him in.
“Wait here,” Levi instructed. He ran over to the other side of the barn where a storage locker was located. He grabbed candles and thick blankets. He walked over into the center of the barn and arranged the blankets. Setting the candles on the bottom of a tin, that had been flipped upside down. He lit the candles. “Come sit down. I’m going to run out to grab a few things, but I’ll be right back.”
Tandy sat on the blanket, looking around to see if there was an outlet to charge her phone. There wasn’t. She gave up and placed her purse beside her on the hay strewn ground. “I hope no one is worried about me. Right, I live by myself.”
Levi walked back in with a wooden basket filled with a bottle of Riesling and a collection of meat, fruit, and cheeses. “You hungry?”
“I could eat!” A smile grew on Tandy’s face. He walked over and placed the platter in front of her; he sat really close beside her. He smelled like a mixture of freshly cut wood and a hint of rose. Tandy breathed him in, enjoying his incessant smile and the hint of mischief in his eyes.
“Close your eyes and open your mouth!” He instructed with a seriousness in his voice. Tandy felt nervous, but did as she was told. He drizzled some spicy honey over all the fruit. Then, slid in a piece of strawberry into her opened mouth.
“Mmmmm…” Tandy released a low moan. He drew closer to her, gently rubbing her face as she savored the strawberry. They could still hear the storm brewing behind them, but Tandy was less afraid being with him.
“Want some meat? Open your mouth!” Levi said.
Tandy opened her eyes. “Huh?! What are you up to?” She was perplexed. On the one hand, no one would know what she did while she was here. But on the other hand, she didn’t want to have some weird take home gift she wasn’t prepared for.
“Tandy, I have slices of sausage. What did you think I meant?” Levi stared at her with that big smile. “I won’t make you do anything you’re not comfortable doing. Do you not eat meat?”
“Listen, this is too much. What is your end game?”
“I do not understand your question. Have I done something that offends you?”
“No, but I’m not used to this. I’m from Philly. I don’t know anything about you, but you in here feeding me fruit and shit. Like, are you about to kill me and feed me to your horses? What’s the deal?”
“What? I’d never do anything like that. Where would you get something like that from?”
“I watch a ton of crime shows!”
“What are crime shows?”
“Are you kidding me?”
“Listen, I am just an Amish country boy. I work hard all day long. When I saw you earlier, I felt a sense of peace. Maybe it was the glow of your skin or how your hair reminds me of pillows. But, I wanted to touch you. To feel the peace that radiating from your skin. I’ve never been this close to someone like you.”
“What do you mean ‘someone like me’”? Tandy became offended.
“You. A city girl. Once, during Rumspringa, I visited the city. The people were beautiful, but much too angry for me. You don’t seem like them. I didn’t last long; came back home. You have an inner beauty that I’m longing to have.” He grabbed Tandy’s hand and placed it on his chest. Tandy could feel her anger melting away.
He poured a glass of wine. “Tilt your head back, dear.” He began to pour the wine in her mouth, making sure to do small measurements at a time. She closed her eyes. Levi used this as an opportunity. He leaned in and used his free hand to pull her face to his. He kissed her lips, parting her mouth to feel her tongue. Tandy was taut at first, but gave in. He could feel the tension leaving her body.
He laid her down and played in her hair. She laughed. His hands moved lower. He admired her entire body. He played with her like a kid in KB Toys for the very first time. She allowed him; she hadn’t been touched like this in a very long time.
As the night drew on, the candles blew out. They knew each other. Every crease and intricacy. It seemed to still the storm.
By the morning, the wine and food was all gone. The light revealed the wildness of what the night held. Tandy woke up lying in Levi’s arms. He kissed her forehead. “I guess we need to get you squared away.”
Tandy pulled her clothes back on. “Yeah, I don’t want my parents to think something has happened to me.
“Go get in the buggy. I’ll bring the horse around.” Levi pointed as he spoke. He put the empty wine bottle in the wooden basket and rolled the blankets back up. He walked over to the storage bin and placed all of the items inside. At the bottom, he pulled out a gasoline can. He grabbed it and walked over to the horse. He brought the horse back to the buggy and placed the gas tin at the back of the buggy. Tandy’s view was constricted by the lack of continuous light. He connected the horse, then opened the barn doors.
It was early and the dew was still all over the grass. The farm was vast and there seemed to be no one for miles around. They drove out to Tandy’s car. Levi stopped the buggy in the middle of the road.
“But what are we going to do? I don’t see any gas stations out here.”
“I got you!” Levi sprung from the buggy and grabbed the tin can from the back. “Unlock your car!”
“Wait! You had gas the entire time?!”
“Yeah, we use gas too!”
“Huh, what does that mean?”
“Just pour the gas!”
Levi smiled as he poured the gas. After he was done, he placed the tin back inside the buggy. “I have something for you.” He pulled out the wooden platter with the golden handles. “I hope you enjoy this. Every time you use it, I hope you think of me.”
All of Tandy’s anger began to melt away. Levi moved closer and went in for one last kiss.
“If you’re ever at the farmer’s market again, come see me.” He jumped in his buggy and pulled away.
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