Abbie Black sat on his rocking chair looking out over the family ranch and he wanted to cry. He wanted to yell, he wanted to stomp and swear but he knew it would all be futile.

Since the time Abbie was born he could always count on the ranch as his place of peace and solace. It was his escape from the world and no matter where he went or what he did, he knew he could always come home and feel safe and secure.

He kept thinking about how everything had happened and he knew he had no choice but to agree with his Brother and Sister. After his parents had passed, the ranch was always the elephant in the room. Abbie had zero desire to sell, but he was outnumbered and there really was no choice.

The estate taxes his Mom and Dad had left behind had to be paid and it was a colossal amount. His Brother had pointed out that they needed to be paid, and it wasn’t fair to put the onus on him.

Abbie’s Sister had contracted Covid-19 and had almost died and it had caused her to take a new look at life with a different perspective. She loved the ranch, but it was time to move to the City and get on with things, so she had voted with her Brother to list the Ranch.

The growth around the Ranch had been incredible, a farm five minutes away had been sold for millions and millions, the Black family was outside the town lines, so they weren’t even close to getting that kind of money.

As he sat on the Rocker on the porch, Abbie knew something inside of him was broken and could never be fixed. All his best memories were at the ranch. In fact when his Dad went on dialysis, Abbie had left his job in the city to work with his Father. It turned out to be the best six years of his life.

Abbie regretted that he couldn’t do more to help the ranch make money, but there was a bank situation that had to be resolved and it knocked the crap out of the financial situation of the family. It was hard to fight when you had one arm tied behind your back.

As he sat on the Rocker he wanted to cry but the tears wouldn’t fall. He remembered all the customers who used to come and visit his Dad back in the day. As a Livestock broker there were weeks his Dad couldn’t keep up with the demand. It was interesting because he never neglected his family for the sake of money, but he had worked himself to the bone.

Even though it had been eleven years since his Dad died, and two for his Mom, Abbie missed them with his entire being. It was hard to fathom that another key part of his life was soon going to be gone forever. The question that Abbie kept asking himself as he rocked was ‘’What do I do now’.

His Sister was moving to the big city. She didn’t want rural or suburban life and would have been gone already if it hadn’t been for Covid-19. She still planned to move, the question was when.

Abbie wasn’t so lucky, he didn’t know where he was going and more importantly how he was going to survive. His life had been turned upside down. His Brother had a nice house in the burbs and a great Cottage, so he was okay when it came time to duck out, but what would he do.

When he was a young boy his Dad on the way to buying five farms used to say ‘’You’re nothing without land son,’’ and now for the first time in his life he felt like a nothing. It was hard to deal with that reality, but that’s how he felt and he couldn’t tell anybody. The family had slowly divested the farms and the ranch was the last one in the family name, it was extremely difficult.

Abbie had never married and he thought ‘’Maybe if I would have, I should have, I could have, things would’ve been different. Then he heard his father’s voice inside of his head. ‘’Son, everything happens for a reason, you didn’t get married because of a million different situations. You can’t live in that world of what ifs, cause if you do it’ll drive you crazy, Everything is Gd’s plan and you just have to accept it, and keep moving forward. Remember my favourite country song, you gotta roll with the punches and play out all your hunches.’’

Abbie looked over the driveway into the pasture where the heifers used to run. He could see his Dad with a pail of salt feeding them. That memory would be with him, the ranch wouldn’t.

The phone rang and Abbie pulled it out of his pocket. It was Tamara, his girlfriend of nine years. She lived in the city and was talking about them moving in together, and enjoying life, and he appreciated the support, but he couldn’t take the call. He wanted to talk but he needed time. It was sad to say but he didn’t think she really understood what he was going through. He had lived in the city for fifteen years and then when he moved to the country, his quality of life had improved beyond belief. Maybe it was the cows first thing in the morning, or the brisk, fresh country air. He wasn’t sure the reason but being away from the hustle and bustle had suited him very nicely, now he was going to have to readjust and at sixty it wasn’t the easiest thing in the world to do. Tamara had been beyond patient, but decision time was happening and it couldn’t be avoided. The problem was after the Real Estate Agent got her cut, the taxes on the sale got paid, and the estate taxes were paid, there wouldn’t be very much left over. It was hurtful, because in the back of Abbie’s mind he knew that in the next ten years or less the property values would sky rocket and the ranch would be worth millions, but again all he could do was shake his head, when you’re out voted, you’re out voted. He his Brother and Sister had promised their parents there would never be a rift in the family over money, and they all kept their word.

The Realtor had called in the morning to say the deal was firm, so the next step was cleaning out the house and packing things away. Abbie would rent a storage unit till he could find a place to rent. That made him sigh. A place to rent was a difficult concept when you had your own place. The heaviness once again fell on his heart.

His Sister would be out the next day to help start the cleaning process, they had thirty days to get everything sorted, and his Brother would come on Friday to take a few things like the Horn cutters for nostalgia sake.

Abbie stood up and did one more look around. There were cattle running but they didn’t belong to the family, he had leased the barn and pastures to Woody Neal, who would now have to deal with the new owners. Abbie had signed him to a three year lease when it was decided that the sale was going to happen. Abbie wanted to treat Woody right, he had been a good tenant and was a hard working man, he deserved some security.

It was the first time in Abbie’s life that it was hard to get out of the rocking chair. His whole body felt very heavy, his legs felt like they were made of lead. In the sixty years of his existence on the planet, Abbie never felt depressed, but in one day that had changed. He felt lost in a way that nobody would ever understand.

Abbie saw Woody’s truck coming up the long driveway and instead of his normal greeting and then conversation, he turned around and went in the house and closed the door. He just couldn’t talk, he couldn’t say the words. The ranch would no longer be a part of his life, it was almost unthinkable, but it was also reality.

After getting under the covers that night, Abby thought about life. He came to one realization, we are all just passing through. Our possessions are all on loan, and our future and destiny are not guaranteed. Sometimes you don’t realize how important everyday is, but they are, every single day counts. The ranch was special because it made Abbie more than just another number, another person, he had pride of ownership. It was now over and he would have to reinvent his life. He thought about it, looked at his nightstand, reached over and grabbed his phone and dialed Tamara.

Alan Schwarz loves life. He is the founder of JAMS Productions, a television production company based in Toronto . His passion is writing.