I got an invite to Bluebell Books’ Short Story Slam and all I could come up with looking at this picture was a description of a field and a girl. I figured if worst came to worst, I’d write this description and see where it took me, then slap it with the label of “flash fiction” if I run out of air. Short story writing is not my strong suit and I fear being all melodramatic, and as my writing teacher in college said, “archetypal.”
I wrote this in one sitting, yay! It does draw some from my
grandmother’s childhood, but I use it loosely. Anyway, tell me what you think and I decided to put it on this blog because my last few posts on the other blog were all creative writing. Tell me what you think for real, OK?
At a certain point mid-field, you can’t see anything anymore, just the wheat and the sky. In this endless sameness, you begin to believe you are the only person on earth. The dilapidated house and its occupants are gone, Your overworked mother, your teasing brothers, and your crying little sister are nowhere. Your father isn’t dying anymore of consumption, he just no longer exists.
The preacher man shouts about being raptured most Sundays. Being left behind, the person beside you literally goes to meet his maker and you’re about to be meted out eternal judgement by Jesus Christ on a white pony. You don’t know about the hell-fire, a fire made from a lake, or when Jesus Christ will come along and make you jump in, but you do wonder about being left. Here you are standing in the endless wheat field and you do feel as though the world’s been raptured and you’re still here. Left behind. Forgotten. And it feels like paradise to be alone, your personal heaven.
You aren’t in heaven or left behind. You have to go back home before dark.
Your father dies a few days later. Around 3am you wake up to a scream. It’s your mother in the room you aren’t allowed in, the sick room. You can’t remember a time when he wasn’t sick. You can’t remember a time you were allowed to be near him.
It’s odd your father used to be married before, but indeed he was, and divorced! Everyone knew, but it wasn’t to be talked about, until the first Mrs. Harnett and her two grown daughters come for a visit.
The house and property are sold and divided between the two Mrs. Harnetts. Your family’s possessions are loaded onto the back of a truck. Before you leave for the last time, an old lady of the neighborhood takes you and your sister aside.
“Y’all girls got to be good for your Mama, you hear? If y’all don’t, she won’t be able to take care of you and’ll have to put y’all in the orphanage.” You’re 12 years-old, but you, like your 7 year-old sister, believe her because old ladies you’ve known your entire life don’t lie.
You leave the home you and your siblings were born in and the wheat field. No matter where you go or how long you live you’ll never quite have the peace you found in that field surrounded by the unencumbered sky.