Forrest never thought he'd see her again. When she left the County three years ago he was sure she would never come back. Those were her words after all.
The barn was full of people, full of music, a crowd of people ready to buy from the Bondurants. Howard and Jack moved off to the side with a crate of moonshine, ready to serve their eager customers. But Forrest stood off to the side as usual to keep an eye on the crowd, and that's when he saw her.
With a hat covering most of her face, he was surprised he noticed who she was. But Forrest would never forget that face or her long blonde hair. It was longer than he remembered, she was thinner than he remembered, she looked much more run down than he remembered. She didn't wear a dress and dance with the other men and women, she just stood to the side leaning against the wooden beams and smoking a cigarette.
Forrest then felt someone by his side, his younger brother Jack.
"Hey Forrest…is that…"
"You best go help Howard now Jack," Forrest warned, his eyes still on the crowd as he smoked his cigar.
Jack said nothing more and moved back to his oldest brother, watching carefully as Forrest's gaze returned to the woman.
"Howard," Jack began in a lower voice, although Forrest wouldn't hear him over the music, he was still skeptical. "That Evie Henry over there?"
Howard's eyes followed Jack's gesture.
"Well I'll be damned," he scoffed.
*15 years earlier*
Evie held her hands in her pocket as she walked down the dirt road, whistling to herself as she looked behind at her farm house. Her father didn't like when she hung around with the Bondurant boys even though he and their father were good friends. Apparently teenage girls with teenage boys was always bad news.
When she was clear of the road, Evie started running down into the paddock, dodging trees and bushes expertly. She took the same route three times a week, hurrying to make it to the small shack in the woods.
"Why ain't I surprised you started without me again," Evie sighed as she walked inside.
The shack only had three walls, the other was bare and gave a somewhat pleasant view of the river.
Forrest was sitting with his back against the wall sipping of a jar of clear liquid, taking a deep breath after swallowing.
"You always late," he looked up at her.
"I gotta stage an escape from my property, you don't," she reminded, sitting beside him and grabbing the bottle.
"I bring the liquor," he reasoned.
"Your damn lucky you do," she chuckled before taking a swig. "Whoa,"
"Yeah, fresh bottle," Forrest laughed, taking it back.
"How have you still got a liver?" she asked, coughing slightly.
"I'm a Bondurant,"
Evie rolled her eyes and mimicked his words.
"Yeah well I'm a Henry and I ain't dead yet either, you just as indestructible as me,"
Forrest turned to her and smiled.
"I suppose you're right,"
Forrest wanted to know what she was doing back here. The farmhouse where she lived went up in flames three years ago, her father was dead, her brother was off at war. There was nothing here for her anymore.
Evie dropped her cigarette to the floor, stepping over it as she walked toward the side exit, her body swaying from side to side. Forrest bit down on his lip as he watched her leave, knowing she was intending to drive herself somewhere.
It wasn't any of his business, he had no right chasing her outside and telling her what she should or shouldn't be doing, but he couldn't help himself. Before he knew it he was stepping outside as well, following the dark figure up to a car.
"Seems like you're forgettin' what moonshine does to you," Forrest spoke as he walked closer, catching her before she opened her door.
Evie turned around, a smile creeping onto her face as she saw who was walking toward her. She knew the voice before she saw the face, she could never forget him.
"Forrest Bondurant," she folded her arms, leaning back onto her car. "Ain't you a sight,"
Forrest cleared his throat uncomfortably, slipping his hands into his pocket. Evie noticed how much bulkier he was now than she remembered, how deeper his voice was, how much meaner he seemed. Maybe those rumors she had heard around the place were true.
"How you been?" Forrest asked, not really knowing what else to say as he looked around.
"Still kicking," she chuckled, thinking back to how he would always let his eyes roam whenever he was nervous. "And you?"
"Oh I'm alright," he nodded.
"Still out the station?" she asked, knowing the answer before he nodded. "Well, you did tell me you weren't leaving,"
"Yeah, just about the same time you told me you weren't coming back," he reminded.
Evie's smile slowly disappeared from her face as she stared back at him. She didn't like thinking back to that evening she left.
"You could come," she told him as they stood at the front steps of the station.
Evie's bag was by her feet, she had made up her mind.
"You don't even know where you're goin'," Forrest shook his head.
"I know I can't stay here,"
"You can stay here," he assured. "This is your home too,"
"Forrest…everywhere I look I see flames and I can hear them…" she shook her head. "I can't be here anymore,"
Forrest put his hands in his pocket, looking at her with a serious gaze.
"So you just gonna up and leave?"
"I don't have many options,"
"You…and me," he began, but Forrest could never talk about that sort of thing so freely.
"You know how I feel Forrest, that ain't ever gonna change," she reminded. "And I want us…I want things here, I do…but I have to go,"
"Yeah," she hung her head low for a moment before returning to his gaze. "Well some of us ain't that great at keeping our word,"
Forrest noticed the change in her voice, the way she looked away from him as if she was ashamed of herself. She had told him she was never coming back, but here they were.
"What brought you back?" he asked, cutting straight to the point.
Evie shook her head.
"Can't a girl visit her hometown?"
"You don't look like you're visiting,"
Evie followed Forrest's gaze to the back of her car which had a bag fully packed, shoes and blankets piled next to it.
"And what does it look like I'm doing?" she asked.
Forrest looked back at her, his eyes staring right into hers.
Evie glared at him for a moment before reaching into her pocket and lighting a cigarette.
"Is that right?" she mumbled, blowing smoke into the night sky. "Ain't you insightful these days,"
Forrest heard the annoyance in her voice, knowing he was right.
"What you got yourself into?"
"What, you trying to save the day Forrest?" she asked, folding her arms once again and dangling the cigarette between her lips.
"You come back here with your bags packed and head straight for the liquor," he told her, his voice loud.
"Was I supposed to drop by the station, is that it? I should of come found you and told you straight away what my business was here as if I don't have any right coming back?"
This wasn't how either of them wanted to meet again after all the years, but there was a lot left unsaid between the two of them and the tension was high. There was silence between them for a while as they stared at one another, their silence speaking volumes.
"You just took off," Forrest shook his head, looking away once again as he spoke, his voice quiet but still holding anger. "I didn't know where you were or if you was even alive. Three years of that. Then you show up like this,"
Evie lowered her gaze as she took another drag of her cigarette, not wanting to look up and into his eyes. She knew she had hurt him when she left, it had haunted her the whole time she was gone, but hearing Forrest say it was painful.
''Forrest…'' she whispered, looking up at him apologetically. ''You don't have to remind me how stupid it was,''
Forrest shook his head, his hands burrowing deeper into his pockets.
''Where'd you even end up? Where you been for three years, huh?''
''Lost track,'' she shrugged. ''Turns out I'm no good at starting over,''
There was a brief silence as Forrest considered where she had been all this time. If she hadn't settled down somewhere, what had she been doing? Three years was a long time to not have a home, to not have a life.
''So you thought you'd come back and continue where you left off?''
Evie chuckled and blew out of a cloud of smoke toward the night sky, shaking her head at his words.
''Fuck you Forrest,''
Throwing her cigarette down on the ground, Evie turned and opened her door, sliding into her seat before realizing something was stopping her door from closing. Forrest had a hold of the door frame, holding it where it was so she couldn't slam it shut.
''Why you actin' like an idiot?'' he asked.
''Let go of the damn door,'' Evie snarled.
''You ain't driving,''
''What do you care?''
Forrest was silent as Evie ripped the door from his grasp and started the engine, taking off and leaving him standing in darkness watching her speed off down the road. He didn't know why he let her go, but something made him think that maybe she wasn't the girl he remembered. Three years was a long time, they had both changed.
But it wasn't until her headlights left his sight that he realized how stupid he was letting her go again.
Neither Howard or Jack mentioned Evie when they made their way back to the station. Forrest had gone back into the barn just before they finished selling the crate of moonshine and decided to take off, and both brothers knew where he had been.
They had learnt thought over the years that bringing up Evelyn Henry always resulted in Forrest getting angry and it usually lasted days. They hadn't mentioned her in over a year now and now they didn't know what to say.
Forrest was silent on the way back but that was hardly unusual. They were listening to the radio as they made their way further down the road, a car coming into their view on the side of the road just before the entrance to the station. Forrest clenched his fists in anger as he saw the vehicle, knowing exactly who it was.
''I'll take care of this,'' he mumbled as Jack slowed the car down.
''What are you doing?'' Howard asked, genuinely confused.
''Just get on back to the station now,'' Forrest ordered. ''Go on,''
Jack hesitated for a moment before driving toward the gate, leaving Forrest to inspect the vehicle.
Walking toward the door, Forrest could already see the blonde hair leaning against the steering wheel. Evie was hunched over, her mouth hanging open as she slept heavily.
Letting out a long sigh, Forrest mumbled under his breath as he pried the door open, gently pushing Evie over to the passenger side.
The next morning, Evie woke up in the spare bedroom at the Bondurant's station. Head aching, body sore, she pulled herself up enough to sit and put her head in her hands. She knew how she got here because she remembered where she was heading.
Evie was still in the same clothes, still in her boots. Her jacket was on the floor beside her.
She only intended to pull over for a few seconds to think to herself and now here she was. As if she needed another reason for Forrest to look down on her.
And there he was at the door, arms folded as he leaned against the frame and looked at her emotionless.
''I shouldn't be here,'' Evie pulled her hair over to one side out of her face. ''I should go,''
''Runnin' already,'' Forrest shook his head. ''Why I should be surprised but I just aint,''
''I get it,'' she groaned. ''Just give me my keys,''
''I ain't done,''
''Jesus Forrest, I know you hate me but keeping me around to remind me about my fuck up is a bit much,''
Forrest couldn't help feeling guilty when she thought he hated her.
''I wanna talk,''
''You?'' Evie raised her eyebrows. ''Talk?''
''I got questions,''
''Good for you,''
''I figured you'd owe me at least before you leave again,''
Evie folded her arms, watching as he stepped into the room and closed the door. There was a chair in the corner but before he moved to take a seat, Forrest glanced back at her, down at her shoulders and around her neck before speaking.
''Start with how you got those bruises,''