The Foreigner

The Foreigner Ch.9: Jessick’s Country

Like a person, the countryside has all different faces and flavors. It can be the glory of the great Earth, with sparkling waters and rolling green hills. It can be daunting and mysterious with dead trees rising above you in the night, their jagged edges stabbing the dark sky.

In the morning it is quiet, like the most precious secret. The soft rays of the early sun brush feather strokes on the hovering mist, turning it from silver to gold as time seems to stand still. From a high perch, one can watch the mist rise in curtains, making the great ascension from their early morning grave to the white fluffy clouds in the heavens.

For Jessick, it is mostly simple and dirty. There was mud, the occasional waste of the animals, swarms of gnats and sticky sap from the trees. Her skin scuffed with dirt, her hair matted, the knees of her jeans green with grass stains. There is always that decision to make: should I keep my careful distance from the great wild, my hair clean and tame, my boots protecting me from the dirt, or should I just give into it and let it take me over? As a child there was no question: let’s dive in! She ran, she rolled, she skidded, she swam. Now, as well-composed adult, she preferred to only allow the great country just a step in her door, a breeze through her window. Even enjoying a day outside with a paintbrush in her hand, she wonders how, as a child, the mosquitos never bothered her. Perhaps there weren’t as many back then.

Bright green eyes greet the late-morning sun with a shine of their own. A faded tee-shirt hides a short, medium-sized frame. Old jeans that still fit just right show off her curvy figure, ending in frayed edges around her boots. She stands in the great outdoors, a broad field stretching across several acres. Several yards behind her is an old country home which is two and a half stories tall with a porch that wraps all the way around and has a built-in gazebo.

She drinks tea from a mason jar and sets it on a make-shift table: an old box. Her palet is a recycled piece of vynil from an abandoned, tattered grill cover, now holding pools of paint in blues, greens and browns, dashed by random streaks and swipes where she has pulled colors and mixed them together. The painting shows a countryside but not the one in front of her. Instead it depicts a field with a pond and a nearby line of trees; the beginning of a forest.

She smiles and takes another drink, lifting her brush to add some blue to the sky, making white whisps for clouds. With another brush, she adds a hawk flying high, searching for prey.

She steps back for a moment, using one small hand blotched with dry paint to sweep chocolate-brown locks of hair from her brow.

“Jessick!” An old man yells across the field, standing in the doorway, leaning on a cane, “you have a phone call!”

“Oh bother,” she says, tossing her brush on the vynil. With her old, clunky boots, she trots through the dry summer grass, entering the door open door into a clean, sunny, kitchen with wood floors and a large island. Her cell phone is on the island and she picks it up.

“Sanders.”

“Jessick. Hi. My name is Theo Montgomery and I have a proposition for you.”

“I’m listening,” she says, perking up an eyebrow.

“I don’t know if you remember, but we worked together years ago during the Reform.”

“Oh, Ted! I didn’t realize it was you. The Truth Behind the Movement was a great film to be involved in. What can I do for you?”

“Well, Jessick, I have another project. It is government-related, but small time. Well, small government… big project.”

“If you think it’s interesting, I’m in.” She reaches for a sip of tea and realizes she left it outside.

“Well, you might have not have as much creative freedom as I’m sure you’d prefer. But I think the project could use your insight. The location is–well not TOP secret, but an off-the-map research facility.”

At this point Jessick’s eyes and mouth are hanging wide open. Secret research. Government facility. She gets a hold of herself.

“Yes? And the subject of your film?”

“Well… it’s a complicated situation. They’re doing research on a recent discovery, but they want it documented professionally. Not just a bunch of amateur hand-held crap. You know, something tasteful. Something for the history videos. I can tell you more when we meet–that is, if you’re interested.”

“Ted, I can hardly define just how much interest I have right now. I tend to get a little overwhelming when I get excited, so let me stop talking before I embarrass myself.”

The man on the other side of the phone chuckles affectionately.

“Well, hell, when can we meet?”

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