Of all the letters I will write in this series, this one is the hardest.
You had been home from Grammar for several years; the tensions between Mum and Dad had faded into a cold war situation.
Both of them both were finding a degree of satisfaction in what they were doing outside the confines of the farm. It had settled into a marriage of convenience; not particularly loving but certainly an improvement on the fighting and anger it replaced.
Unfortunately for you; a lot of Dads anger and rage became aimed at your perceived inadequacies as a farmer, and; probably your disinterest with the whole process.
Jerry was also by, now a part of the working dynamic on the farm and the tensions between you, him and often evolved into scenes of violence.
I have wondered more than once; how different your life and indeed; the lives of many people in your orbit would have been, had you followed your dreams and not been sucked into the confines of the farm and the local community.
You were a brilliant pianist and your voice could transport me to places of my dreams. With the exception of some halfhearted attempts at forming a band, treated with disdain by Dad and resigned indifference by Mum; the only outlet for your music was the monthly church service in the village.
You were my hero, my bulwark against the tirades of Jerry and the ongoing tensions, still simmering; not far from the surface.
The first time it happened, we were turning hay bales in the spring holidays, it had rained after we had bailed this paddock and the bales needed to be dry before they could be stacked. You and I wandered up and down the length of the paddock turning hundreds of hay bales.
We had stopped for afternoon tea and were sitting talking, the next thing I knew, was the sensation of your hand wandering up my leg towards my crotch.
I had no idea how to react, so I ran; I was pretty fast in those days and within seconds was well out of your reach.
It is hard to say how I felt afterwards, we went back to finishing the paddock and drove home together with not a word being spoken about what had just happened.
My brother, my hero had crossed a line that day and somehow things were different.
The following Christmas, after Chloe and Gordy were married I would spend much of the holidays with them on their farm just west of home.
Gordy will never know how much I appreciated the simple earthiness and humanity he showed me over those holidays, I was away from you, I was away from Jerry’s violent temper and I was away from the discontent at home.
I could not bring myself to speak to anyone about what had happened, I wished you no harm and I did not want to get into or cause trouble. Gradually the memory was suffused with all sorts of rationales and slowly I came to trust you again.
I was fifteen at the time, you were eight years older and engaged to Madeline. You were the brother I loved and trusted.
I needed your love and trust.
In mid-1968, you and Madeline were married and you moved into the old house at the back of the farm. Madeline made another refuge for me, I would spend evenings over the holidays sitting and talking with you both. We could laugh about the tensions at home and I felt safe again.
Some time after this; we were finally building a new toilet and shower building at the big house; I was helping you and the builder, during the spring or summer holidays. Mum was away and there was just the three of us at the house when both of you lunged at me after lunch, groping at my crotch.
Again I ran; the thought of being some sort of prize to be shared by you and the builder was simply something beyond my comprehension.
I have never been able to work out just what the builder thought; was it to him just some harmless fun? or; was there something else involved in this joint attack? I will never know the answer to this question but the shame I felt that afternoon could not be easily washed away.
Steve, my love for you did not die that day, but; something definitely changed.
No one to talk to, no one to trust.
I don’t think I have ever felt more alone than I did that day.