At the dawn of the Twentieth Century, sixteen-year-old Annie McGinnis wishes for a chance to see more of the world, since all she’s ever known is the family farm in North Texas. A mysterious visitor arrives who will change not only her life, but her family’s as well. To save Max Landry from a bogus charge, she follows him and the Texas Rangers back to the coal-mining town one county over where a murder occurred. The short journey sets Annie on a path of discovery—new horizons, an inner strength, and quite possibly…love.
“I’ve never been anywhere, at least far away. Oh, how I would love to go to Paris, too, and New York. Other than Brazos City, I’ve only been over to Mineral Wells, once. Did you know they have the healing water baths there in two hotels? People come from all over. Anyway, we went to a fair and rode a Ferris wheel and a carousel, and ate hot dogs from a stand, and even had fairy fluff. I didn’t really care for that pink gooey junk, though. It was sort of disappointing, you know? What you saw was something awful pretty and it promised to be something outstanding, but when you bit into it, all you got was a mouthful of airy stuff that just disappeared in your mouth.”
Max stopped in the field, took Annie’s arm, and turned her toward him. “Did you know, Annie McGinnis, you’ve just articulated how I feel much of the time?”
“What…what do you mean, ar-ticu-lated?” she asked with widened eyes.
Before he answered, he lowered the tote to the ground, and placed his hands low on his hips, gazing away from her. Words wouldn’t come exactly as he wanted, but she had expressed the convoluted thoughts he had in his head much of the time.
He turned back and said very slowly, “Often I see something nice I might like to have, a big house, one of those new motor cars they’re making now, a new tailored suit with a hat to match, or…a family…” His voice trailed off as if he forgot what he wanted to say, but really, he just didn’t know how to express his feelings.
“Go ahead, Max, say it,” she urged gently. “A family to come home to.”
He shook his head. “But it could all disappear in an instant, right before your eyes. Don’t you see? It’s not worth it in the end. You think you have something forever and bang, it’s all gone. Turned to nothing in your mouth when at first, it seemed so sweet.”
Annie stepped closer to him and placed her hands on his upper arms. He stood still and looked at her, waiting for her to speak. His heart beat hard against his ribs, and the warmth from her small hands burned through his shirtsleeves, but he didn’t move and waited for her to speak.
“Max,” she began very softly, “don’t you see? Life hurts sometimes, doesn’t it? Does that mean you hide away, and curl up and die because you’re afraid? Even animals don’t do that, Max. They move on, find another burrow, another place and maybe another family, but they start over somehow. You can’t run forever, you know. Soon, you should stop, make a decision, and move on toward your goal. Wandering about like the hoboes that sometime sit under the trestle isn’t for you. You’re too smart and too good to give up on the life the Lord gave you. Wouldn’t you be ashamed of yourself? Stand up, Max, and move on. Find your place and live.”
Max couldn’t move and he was even afraid to breathe. Before he could stop his emotions, a lone tear leaked out of the corner of one eye. Without thinking, he pulled Annie to him, and kissed her sweetly and sincerely on her soft lips.
When he broke the kiss, she smiled at him like the angel she was. “Let’s keep moving, you think?” Max asked.
“Yes,” she said, and smiled so brightly that he thought he might break down and really cry.
“Come on, then,” he said. “Show me the way.”