Tale as Old as Time

Barely Even Friends

Under the stars, in an open grassy field, a man stood with a lit cigarette between his fingers. He brought it up to his lips and took a long drag as he stared out at the roses that lined the border of the white plantation house. Exhaling the smoke between his lips he moved his stare from the roses to the stars above. He sighed when he saw the moon. For three years he had spent his nights, alone on the plantation, watching the moon. He flicked the cigarette to the ground making sure he stamped it out with his shoe. Kicking at a patch of grass he swung around and strode back into the house, stopping on the porch, he placed a hand on one of the columns of the large plantation house. It had taken the last three years to rebuild the great house after the fire that left him alone and scarred. He hadn't been able to do much but sign the papers the first year as his half mangled body healed, leaving only scars of the burns he'd sustained behind. Now he was marred for life, grizzled, they said. The workers on the plantation were afraid of him, just for the way he looked. The people in the small Georgian town were all afraid of him too, but that didn't stop them from talking about what happened that night. Some said that it was his mother that started the fire, having caught her husband in yet another affair, because she wanted to teach him a lesson and kill herself in the process. Others claimed it was a disgruntled worker that started the fire, angry about something that the job called for, exacting his vengeance. No one knew the real story, not even him. All anyone knew was that the fire had left him an orphan, mangled his once perfect skin, and ensure that no servant or maid wanted to work in the place ever again. So he was there, alone, except for the plantation workers, and he hardly bothered with them.

He made his way to his study, deciding that a glass of whiskey would be perfect for him right now, as it was every other night after he'd pondered the moon. He settled into his chair and sipped at the bitter drink, thinking about how soon it would be time to harvest the peaches. Harvesting peaches meant he'd have to go into town in order to sell peaches, in order to keep the place running. Just because everyone thought he was half-mad and hideous didn't mean they wouldn't buy his peaches. It could be said that the good people of the near-by town only bought his peaches out of pity, it was a well-known fact that he grew the best peaches for miles around, hell, most folks said he grew the best peaches from their little town all the way out to Knoxville, and sure enough people from all walks of life came to get their hands on those Georgia peaches.

So it came to pass in a few weeks’ time that he went to town and started delivering peaches to the local markets, and letting townspeople know that they could come out and purchase some from him whenever they wanted. Then one day, she came. Her father was retired from the military; he'd apparently done a lot of good in the civil war, came home and had the most beautiful little girl the town had seen in a long time. She had long brown hair and big green eyes and she'd been named after her mother who had died in childbirth. Belinda, Belle for short, stood in a periwinkle colored dress with a large hat flopping in front of her face; she had skin like a peach and lips that were pink and full. She truly was a beauty, although from what he'd heard she was rather odd. He didn't realized he'd been staring at her until she approached him.

"Mr. Pearce," she called, her voice soft and yet firm. "What kind of peaches would you recommend for a pie? My nanny just promised she'd teach me how to make peach pie, but only if I got the peaches from you."

He cleared his throat in order to find his voice, "Well Miss Stone, I would suggest the Golden Jubilee peaches, they're nice and soft so they seem to have a melt-in-the-mouth texture when you put them in a pie, and they're freestone peaches so it's a lot easier to remove the pits. My mama always used to use Golden Jubilee peaches, and I have never found a peach pie more perfect than hers."

"Well I'll have to bring you one of mine Mr. Pearce, because I'm sure you will change your mind. I'll take a few pounds of them then, and I'll be by tomorrow with that pie. Daddy?" She called her father over. "This is Mr. Pearce, I'd like to bring him a pie tomorrow, would you mind too terribly if I did?"

"Of course not my dear, it's a pleasure to meet you Pearce. My little girl seems to have taken a liking to you. You make sure you take care of her now, you hear?"

"Yes sir, Colonel Stone." He answered as if it was nothing, as if he could handle it but honestly he was shocked. The most beautiful girl in the county wanted to come and spend time with him, willingly and not for business.

That night, he avoided looking at the moon and it's cruel beauty. He sat in his study, going over the days business numbers, and daydreaming about peach pie.