Amy placed another carrot in her basket, which was almost overflowing. Their garden was doing so well this year. It hadn’t always done this well. During her first year of marriage to Tristan, it had gone quite badly due to a lot of irregular rain and storms. Tristan had tried to help her with it, but there were just times when gardens didn’t do as well.
Amy loved eating vegetables from their garden. It was something she was going to miss.
The sound of a horse and wagon drew her attention to the small road leading up to the ranch. After their marriage, her father had offered to move into the big house with his brother, so Amy and Tristan could have the little cabin to themselves.
Amy still felt bad about displacing her father, but he would hear of nothing else. The wagon belonged to the Staffords; Amy recognized it well. Despite her original worries about getting along well with Tristan’s family, she’d overthought it too much. She was good friends with all of Tristan’s sisters, but especially Ellie.
It seemed it was Ellie who had come to visit her today. She was managing the wagon like a professional and pulled it to a stop right in front of the little cabin.
“Amy, I’m so glad I found you. I wanted to visit you one more time before you leave town.”
Amy laughed. Ever since Tristan’s father had found him a position as a sea captain by calling in a favor, everyone was acting as if they were leaving forever instead of for six months.
“Come in, I was just gathering in the last of the vegetables. I can’t believe we are leaving in one week. Time passes so quickly. How are Tristan’s parents taking it?” Amy knew that while Tristan’s father had found this opportunity for his son, he was not happy about it. If Amy had to guess, Tristian’s father had only agreed to this because he wanted Tristan to realize he liked being a deputy in a stable town better instead of faring the wild seas with his wife by his side.
“They are taking it all right. I think they originally didn’t think he would go through with it. My father … he’s been trying to understand Tristan better. He figured this would be the thing to unite them again. It was actually when they were searching for you that they grew closer than ever.” Ellie frowned slightly as she mentioned the dreaded time when Amy had been lost, and for a while, everyone had thought they’d never see her again, especially Tristan and her father.
She led Ellie into the house and sat down at the kitchen table after rinsing her hands of the dirt she’d picked up while getting the carrots. She poured Ellie a cup of hot tea.
“Are you excited?” Ellie’s eyes filled with concern. “Do you really want to sail the sea? What about pirates, other bad guys, and sea sickness?” Ellie’s tone grew more worried with each word.
“I have to admit, I was worried about those things at first too, but it’s so much more important for me to be with Tristan. I wouldn’t want to be away from him for six months. I would rather risk the adventure and the dangers that come along with it.”
Ellie nodded. “I agree. I’ve met someone in town, I think. I wasn’t going to tell you, but since you are leaving, I figured it would be better for you to know before you go, just in case when you come back, I am already married.”
“What? Married? To whom? Why is this the first I am hearing about this? Tell me everything.” Amy had been eagerly listening to Ellie’s accounts of how she was looking for someone who would love her the way Tristan loved Amy.
Amy had been nothing but supportive, but Ellie was not easy to please.
“He’s someone new in town. I think he is here with his father to start a new business. I’ve only run into him a couple of times. He’s handsome and tall, and he’s asked to meet me after church on Sunday. I think … well, I think I might be falling in love already.”
Amy giggled. “Don’t fall in love too fast. Give yourself some time to get to know him.”
“You’re right, and I will, which is why I didn’t plan to tell you before, but I did want you to know in case it turns into something serious. I’m glad I came to visit. It’s been a while since we’ve sat down and done this.”
“I’m glad too. It’s been too long.” Amy was going to miss sitting down and visiting with Ellie, Tristan’s mother, Claire, Kathy, and even Aunt Margaret. She’d built a family and a community here in Joston, Alabama. It was going to be sad to leave it behind, even if it wasn’t forever.
“So, are you ready for the big trip?” Tristan asked, sitting beside Amy on the parlor chair where she was reading in front of the fire.
She closed her book, then leaned her head against Tristan’s shoulder.
“I’m ready, it’s just … well, the more I think about it, the sadder I feel for your family. We’ll be leaving them behind. We knew that it would be part of going off for a few months.”
Tristan nodded. “I know how you feel. I’ve been thinking about it for quite some time too. I wonder what will have changed when we return. Hopefully, it will not be too much. I like the way things are now. My father and I … well, our relationship is not the best, it never has been, but it has improved these past two years.
“When we were searching for you, we came to an understanding. I think I was able to see how much he really cares both about me and what he does. He complimented me, and it helped me see that I can be more than one thing in life. However, I still want to know what it is to be a sea captain. If you want to stay, I’ll understand.” Tristan sounded sad but also accommodating as he said it. He would let her stay, and he would be more than all right with it, she was sure. She didn’t want to stay, though.
“I would rather go with you anywhere, no matter how far, how dangerous or how scary, but I would rather go with you.”
“And that is one of the reasons I love you.” Tristan kissed her forehead. “There are many more besides that, of course.”
“I love you too and thank you for allowing my father to come with us. I don’t think I would have felt as excited about all this if I were leaving him behind.”
“I had no choice.” Tristan shook his head. “I really did need another crew member, and your father was the perfect option. The only thing I’m not sure we could do on a ship is start a family. Can you imagine a baby on a ship?”
Amy shrugged with a smile. “Perhaps. Would it really be so bad to have a baby growing up on a ship?”
“I don’t know.” Tristan laughed. “I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. So far God has not blessed us with a baby, so we have time.”
“Speaking of God’s blessings, you said that you had something to tell me about a change in our plans?”
Tristan’s eyes lit up with excitement. “Yes, we’ve gotten two more businesses to send shipments on our ship. If everything goes as planned, we will be earning almost double what I originally thought. Even if this trip is horrible, and we realize that we don’t want to ever spend another minute on a ship, then we will have at least earned some money to start out on some land of our own. My father has offered to sell me a large piece of the family farm at a very affordable price.”
“You want to settle down when we get back?” This surprised Amy. She would have thought Tristan wanted to sail forever.
“I don’t know. I figured we would think about it. It is just an option. We have the rest of our lives to think about what we want to do long term. As long as we are together, that is all that matters.”
Amy kissed his cheek, just a quick peck. She loved him so much that her heart was overflowing. She appreciated having a man who loved her and the idea of spending their lives together so much that he was not even worried if that meant it might not be doing what he’d dreamed of forever.
Who knew? Maybe they would love traveling the seas together.
Tristan sat in his father’s chair at the sheriff’s office. He’d been waiting for close to half an hour for his father to come back. He wanted to talk to him a while before the big trip tomorrow.
Everything felt so dreamlike. He was finally going on the adventure he’d wanted to for so long.
Not only that, but he was taking Amy, the woman he loved along with him. There was a time when he thought none of this would be possible, and yet here he was.
The sound of the door opening made him turn. His father’s face lit up with a smile.
“Tristan? I’m glad you stopped by. I was worried you might leave without saying goodbye.”
Tristan forced a smile. His relationship with his father had grown rocky after he married Amy. He’d decided to be honest with his father, and that hadn’t gone over well at first. It had taken quite a while to build things back up to better than they were before.
“I wouldn’t leave without saying goodbye, Father. I came here to have a bit of a moment to talk about things before we set out tomorrow. Is everything going on all right around here?” Tristan had been away from the sheriff’s office and not working as a deputy for the past few weeks in preparation for his big voyage. He’d been spending time down at the docks with his father’s old friend as well as Mr. Mathews, getting to know all the quirks of the ship and preparing to have to captain it all alone.
It was a lot harder than he used to think.
“I’m glad you’re here, one way or another. Things here have been fine. We are trying to find a couple more candidates to replace you before we have to make a final decision. It’s not easy. Of course, if you come back from your voyage and decide you don’t want to leave town again, you’ll have your spot back as soon as you ask for it.”
“Thanks, Pa, I’ll definitely keep that in mind. Do you have any news on Harold? It’s been a while since I’ve heard anything.” Tristan stood from his father’s chair and sat on the desk while his father sat down.
“As far as I know, he’s going to be a prisoner and working off his sentence for as many years as you can think of. He got a life sentence; I don’t think he’ll ever get out of that, no matter how hard he works.”
“Thanks, Pa. I guess Amy and I will rest easier knowing that.”
“Speaking of Amy, how will the two of you start a family out at sea? Shouldn’t she be staying here?”
Tristan shook his head. They’d already had this conversation. He’d had it with nearly everyone in his family. He didn’t want it up for discussion any longer. Amy was coming with him, and that was all.
“Pa, we don’t have to make this a difficult interaction. If you didn’t want me going to sea, why did you talk with your friend so that he would allow me to be captain on one of his ships?”
His father stood, starting to pace the room as he sighed.
“I talked with my friend because I wanted to give you what you thought would make you happy. Now that you are actually leaving, I guess it is affecting me a lot more than I thought it would. I always imagined that we would be working together here protecting this town, at least until I was a lot older. Now I feel like I’m losing a lot of things, including my son.”
Tristan took a deep breath. He wasn’t sure if he’d ever heard his father be so honest.
“I am sorry you feel like that. I don’t know that I am going to want to be a sea captain forever. As I was talking with Amy, I mentioned that we might buy some land from you and start a ranch, or maybe I will return and miss being a deputy and a lawman, and I’ll end up being the sheriff of this town one day. No one knows what the future holds.”
His father nodded, silent for a moment. “The truth is, I’ve messed up a lot over the years. As I look back, I start seeing how much I’ve done wrong, and how much I would have done differently if I could have. One of those things is my relationship with you. If I could do it all over again, then I would go back in time and try to listen more to what you wanted to do, and what you had planned for your life. I was so busy trying to control your life into being good, I pushed you away.” His father shook his head.
“Pa, I know that it might not feel like it, but your time is not up. We still have plenty of time to mend things and to explore what sort of relationship we have. We don’t have to make this the end.”
“When I was a young man, your mother told me she was pregnant, and we both knew it was a boy, you. We were so positive, we thought of names, and we were sure what we would call you before you were born.”
“You’ve never talked about that before.” Tristan had heard his mother talk about before she’d had the children but not his father. He was always more guarded with his thoughts, feelings, and his past.
“I know. It’s not easy for me. When I knew you were going to be a boy, I thought of all the things we would do together, and how even if you or I never had any other friends, at least we would have one another.” His father smiled, and the look in his eye was far away as if he were seeing a scene from the past play out in front of him.
“Maybe I latched on to that vision so much that I pushed you away instead of keeping you close.”
Tristan took a step closer to his father.
“Pa, we’ve had a hard time of it, and we haven’t always been close, but I do know that I love you, and you’ve been an important part of my life, and instrumental in making me the man I am today. I have you to thank for that. When we get back, I would be open to talking more about all this. I think it’s important not to pretend everything is okay when it is not.”
His father smiled. “Thank you, son. I love you too.” They did something they hadn’t in years, in fact something Tristan could remember doing since he was a little boy, looking up at his father’s towering frame. His father wrapped his arms around him and patted his back in a friendly bear hug.
Tristan hugged him back. This meant the world to him. He’d made a stride in the right direction with his father. Hopefully, that meant there were more to come.
“Is that all of it?” Tristan asked Amy. He was surprised she’d managed to get all their belongings into one large chest. He’d expected to take at least two or three.
“I think it is. We should probably say goodbye.” Amy motioned to where Tristan’s family was waiting toward the front of the ship, staring down in the water as they discussed things in hushed tones. They’d all come to say goodbye, his three sisters and his parents.
“Yes, we should. Shall we?” He held his arm out to Amy.
She nodded and tucked her hand into his elbow. He led her over to where his family was waiting.
“So, I guess this is it.” Tristan laughed nervously. He hadn’t expected it to be so hard to actually leave. Saying goodbye seemed to be the hardest challenge he’d faced in his new position as sea captain so far.
“It is.” His mother dabbed the corners of her eyes with her handkerchief. They all took turns, hugging him first, then Amy. When they were done, his father stepped forward and gave him a half hug, and the same to Amy. He was not crying, but the emotion was there in his gaze. It made Tristan think of their conversation the day before.
“We’ll be waiting for you when you return.”
Tristan nodded. He walked his parents and sisters over to the ramp to get off the ship. He wished they were coming too. He hugged his two youngest sisters once more.
“Amy and I will return before you know it,” he said to them all. They retreated down the ramp slowly, full of sadness, but also understanding. Tristan hugged Amy to his side as he watched them go. This might hurt right now, but it was the right path. This was what he felt his calling was, and it was time to see if it was right for him or not. Amy was there for him, and she was ready to support him in this journey. The two of them would be there for each other, until they were back, and they were reunited with family once more.