Tina Kennard was -- what? Discomforted, anxious, worried, just a little nervous, unsettled - she ran the choices through her head and liked the last one best and settled it on her shoulders. She knew that it wasn't quite accurate but would do until the correct one sprung up.
She had checked the pantry for missing items, whether laundry needed to be done, if any bills needed to paid or letters returned. She ground fresh coffee beans and ran the ridiculously expensive maker, but the cup she had made was almost untouched since she had lost interest in the newspaper she had been reading. She left the kitchen table in search of the crime novel that was half finished. She smiled - so many years, and Bette still teased her about her reading preferences. She read the trashy fiction for almost 15 minutes, but rose again.
"Restless," Tina triumphantly observed, finally coming up with the description that best suited her mood. Identifying her mood, though, made no difference to her behavior and she continued to flit from activity to activity, unable to settle.
She wandered upstairs to the small deck off of their bedroom. Bette had had it built a few years ago so that Tina could spend time outside while recuperating from the broken hip that Ravenwood had gifted her. From the deck, Tina could see their entire property and miles beyond, not so difficult since the land was so flat. She looked towards the stable and spotted the offender as he had trotted around the paddock's fences. He tossed the mane she had lovingly brushed that morning, all offenses forgiven ages ago. She laughed to herself, recognizing that she had had a soft spot for brunettes all of her life.
Tina quickly looked at her watch. She scanned the sky for approaching aircraft even though she knew that it was too early. The expanse of sky still surprised her, as did the flatness of the landscape. Every place was brown except large expanses of their own property. She had pouted that she missed the landscape of her childhood and Bette had promised to transform their home to the lush green that Tina remembered. "Lush" had been more than even Bette Porter and an irrigation system that likely rivaled that of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon could arrange, but grass and trees did surround the house and far beyond.
Tina stared at the landscape that had been her home for many decades, so different from her childhood in Georgia, amidst forests and meadows and planted fields. She glanced again at Ravenwood and that glance sent her to a memory -
riding recklessly, urging Argo to go faster. Crossing meadows in a blur. Leaping over fences. Escaping her parents' news. Every morning that spring, she rose before dawn to get the stallion ready for their first ride of the day and, when all was light, the two left again - reckless, dangerous, racing and leaping. Blocking out the words. Filling up the spot where her dreams had been. Suspending her anger at herself for being so oblivious to the family's true financial situation.
It had been easy to miss it, though. They lived in a large house, her father's "ancestral manse," as he called it, surrounded by property and tilled fields. She went to the private girl's academy her grandmother had attended, one where part of its treasured history was that it regularly served sweet tea on its lawn to Confederate officers during the War of Northern Aggression, and where every girl she knew was a schoolmate. The house servants were in place, as always. There were clues that she berated herself for not recognizing. She certainly knew that there was a Depression - the news reels that played between the first and second movies at the theater had shown her that, but bread lines and men selling apples on street corners were abstract and from someplace else. Drought-blighted farms bore no relation to the fertile fields that surrounded her.
But then there had been clues. Her mother, who had derived so much of her social comfort from her closet with the latest designer clothes, had not bought anything new for over a year, claiming that she didn't care for the "tasteless extravagance" of the latest designs. All of the horses had been sold except Argo, and the stable hand and groomsman let go, since it was "just foolishness" to keep horses that no one rode. Her parents had not been to the country club in months. She found out later that they were avoiding the many members to whom her father owed substantial sums of money.
The sound of the wind, the horse's hoofs and her heavy breathing blocked her thoughts. Sometimes she screamed her anger and disappointment into the wind.
She had been excited when she called to her father's office. She was waiting for college acceptance letters and thought that one had arrived. She found both parents waiting.
"Lee?" her mother had prompted her father, who seemed unable to look at Tina.
When his silence continued, her mother sighed and began.