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the sky is falling
by collette mcfarland 
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Sunday, November 25, 2007

We were being threatened with foreclosure. That’s miserable news for anyone but this was the proverbial family homestead, it’s been in our family for generations too numerous to count. Most of us had been born or died in one room or another in the historic farm house. (historic to our family anyway!) We even had and ancestral cemetery. How do you move away from that? I know they are just lifeless bones now (at least I hope so!) but still….

“Every one can make their story sound more pathetic than the next person’s”, the bank manager informed us, still we had to come up with cash or vacant the premises and start a new family tradition, well fare. “But cheer up, you can still take the ‘birthing beds’ with you.” Mr. Bank Manager snickered. I had wanted to hold him down on one of our downy mattresses with a pillow over his breathing orifices to see how long it would take to stop snickering. Then lay him to rest in our pet cemetery; no, I couldn’t desecrate their resting places with something so subhuman.

“God, forgive me,” I had to pray afterwards, with little sincerity. (A long time afterwards as I replayed my murderous fantasy over and over again for the sinful joy it gave me) God would come through some how. He always had in the past and being the same today, yesterday and tomorrow…..

We spent the day together as a family with some wonderful friends, rounding up the herd. Doesn’t that sound extravagant. You’d think with “herd” comes money and wealth. Our herd was modestly small, not enough to bail us out of our financial difficulties, but enough to continue it. Breeding and feeding of live stock is costly, especially when nature connives against us withholding necessary moisture. We were land poor. We had let the help go so we could pinch money together for the loan we’d taken out on the family business. When we signed the papers five years ago I could have sworn I heard wailing coming from some of the dearly departed interred in the white picketed grave yard past the barn. Surely it was just the wind. I hoped it was just the wind.

We lived way outside of town but a modern paved road passed our long winding dirt driveway and in the past few days it was seeing a lot of traffic. Something was going on in the big city. Cars were whizzing by continuously, packed with luggage. We hadn’t been to town in sometime so it was a mystery to us. Nor did we care, with our problems we just stuck to ourselves. We didn’t like presenting ourselves to the city folk for scrutiny since we didn’t keep up with the city fashions and people in town had long noses to look down at us with.

What a lovely, peaceful night this was turning out to be. This is what life is all about! Sitting under the stars with friends and family, breaking bread, talking. We had been busy most of the day rounding up strays and now we got to relax. Thankfully cousin Marcy couldn’t ride horses, that left her the cooking detail, something she could do better than I could sit a steed so a wonderfully cooked meal was waiting for us.

We listened to each other’s jovial grumblings of sore rear ends (Marcy’s complaint was a sore back from bending over the cooking fire) while shoveling cowboy stew in to our growling stomachs. With the balmy night breeze blowing over us, we sat upwind from the campfire, it was only needed for protection against wild life, and cooking, the night’s temperature didn’t needed to be augmented. I was contemplating sleeping on top of my sleeping bag, I feared I would fry if I slept enveloped in it.

We had a radio playing nearby with soft music to go with our wine coolers. The cows were milling around nibbling on grass and being kept in check by a few well trained canines who occasionally crept over to rest a head on someone’s lap or get a tidbit or two. Of course eventually some news reporter broke into the electronic melodies with disheartening stories from Iraq to remind us of the tragic world affairs going on in areas we had never seen. I remember dreaming that if I ever won a beauty contest I would campaign for world peace, but the fact that I am so ugly is why the world is still at war.

As I lay tranquilly on my back listening to the surrounding conversations I observed numerous falling stars crisscross the black velvety sky. It’s a wonder there are enough stars to light the skies right now with all the ones I tallied streaking downward. The talk in the background faded as the sky began to fill me with fascination. Was it falling in. I was beginning to feel like Chicken Little. I lay there waiting for something to hit me on the head so I could run and tell the world the sky was falling. That would be a happy ending to our story. It sure would solve our problems in a big way; or create new ones. Was the glass half empty or half full? I drained it, now it was completely empty. I wished every one around me would shut up, lie down and look up so I wouldn’t be the only fool worrying about the descending luminaries! I was in the beginning of a panic attack!

“Ohhh, look at the meteorite shower!” Goosey Loosey exclaimed. Finally, someone else noticed. Some one with common sense apparently, I hadn’t thought of that simple explanation. My fear of impending doom started to subside. Thank you God for people with wisdom. I was in the progress of feeling foolish, yet relieved I had kept my suspicions to myself, when suddenly one of the meteorites hit the earth; Bang, pop, boom. Then flickers of world destruction similar to the dinosaur extinction theory flooded my brain cells. Back to panic attack mode.

We all sat upright or stood depending on our immediate positions. We could smell smoke: that usually accompanied fire! We ran to get our horses to check things out, but our faithful mounts had already checked out. We couldn’t even see the dust from their hoofs, they were so far gone! So we raced to the proximity of the landing site on foot, all the while some little voice kept insisting this was insanity, we should be on the tails of our smart horses….. We should be alerting the city that everyone should climb into their bomb shelters and pull the doors in after them.

Over a few hills and mounds and we came upon a crater with earth fragments still spiraling upwards and pelting the surrounding turf; ground zero. A winged creature was pulling himself up over the rim and shaking himself off when we appeared on the scene. He fanned a twisted wing to halt us and then commenced clearing his throat; eloquently preparing to address us. He was trying to be noble looking in robes tattered from his landing. He started off in several different dialects till he stumbled on one he could tell we comprehended…English. His words were highly implausible. He would have done better speaking in Greek. Then without warning (not that giving notice would have mattered) more winged creatures lit up the atmosphere turning the midnight skies into noon, singing songs of peace and praise. It was getting harder to feel frightened while getting your own personal opera. I doubt invading armies sang their captives into submission!

After the thousands upon thousands of performers twinkled away into nothing and night returned, we asked each other if we really saw anything. Slowly at first, none of us wanted to be the first to ask, “Hey, did you see that?” When we concluded that our wine coolers couldn’t have produced the same hallucinations on each of us we headed down the hill to see if the winged creature’s statements were authentic. He had made a incredible announcement that needed verification.

We went in the direction of town and found what we were looking for. A lonely frayed tent was set up on our property with a broken down jalopy parked nearby. Some of our livestock was milling about the parameters. We also found our horses nearby. We hesitantly approached the tent flap, making polite noise so as not to frighten the campers. A man, on his knees, parted the flaps and revealed a young woman lying on a sleeping roll, holding….a young infant. A king! That is what we had been informed by celestial messengers we would find! A King with his umbilical cord newly severed, wearing pampers and tightly wrapped up in a receiving blanket, and nursing. (or so I assumed, mom was discreetly covered and we could hear suckling.)

The new father started apologizing immediately for trespassing but explained the city was having a genealogy convention producing a lack of available sleeping spaces. What was left over he couldn’t have afforded. And, he shrugged, it was necessary to get his wife comfortable as she had decided to go into labor without consulting him. We assured him he was welcome to stay as long as needed and we would be glad to set him up in our spare guest room. Heck, I’d give him the master bedroom and take the guest room myself.

We could hardly wait to get back to get our campsite where we first learned of this miracle. There by the crater we stopped to reflect on the miracle we had been made privy to. Suddenly I stared once, twice, thrice at the clumps of rocks lying about and went into shock. Gold glitter, gold streaks, lumps of gold everywhere and on our land! The landing party (of one clumsy angel) had unearthed riches untold. Chicken little would be paying off Foxy Loxy, a.k.a, the bank manager soon and would never have to worry about him snickering at me or my family again. We’ll be hearing more, “Yes sirs, and yes m’ams” from his pompous lips, that is if we decide to invest our money in his establishment.

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