Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Memory (07/10/08)
By Shirley McClay
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The farmer climbed up on the 8N and turned the key while pulling levers. 8N’s engine coughed and chugged. “Let’s go, old man. Get some work done while the sun is out. Church meeting tomorrow, then its back to work on Monday.”
The 8N Ford Tractor revved in irritation. His motor rumbled in time to his murmurings.
“Back in the day a farmer was actually a farmer.” Chugg, chugg, grumble, mumble. “Farming was his whole life… not a hobby to let off steam from some city job.” Mumble, grumble, chug, chug. “We plowed a whole section of land not just a few measly acres.” Grumble, chug, mumble, chug. “Ain’t right nohow to be bustin my sparkplugs for some fella who just wants to revert to childhood dreams of being a farmer.”
“Let’s try to plow a straight line today, old man.”
Chugga, chugga, chugga, chugga. 8N felt his engine getting warm, and it wasn’t from the work.
That evening the farmer parked 8N and climbed down. He staggered a bit and rubbed his lower back as he groaned. A longing look crossed his face when he looked toward the house, but he hobbled over to a nearby lawn chair and eased his body into it.
“Sixty-three is too old to be working this hard.” He seemed to be in a chatty mood.
8N snickered. “Why, the fella is even older than me and doesn’t seem to be any better at straight lines.”
He continued chatting as he surveyed his yard. “Wish I could get you to move that dirt. Hate the thought of having to hire someone to do it when I‘ve got my own tractor just sitting there.”
“First it was my loose steering, now it’s my hydraulics. Well let’s see him try to lift a full scoop of dirt and see how far he gets. I ain’t doin’ them youngster tricks no more.
After a bit he stood to his feet and stretched. “Goodnight old man.”
“Old man yourself,” 8N grumbled. “No respect at all.”
The next morning the farmer and his wife were gone early. When they arrived home they were soon followed by a whole herd of other cars. Smells from a barbecue found its way through the sturdily built garage and to 8N.
“I use ta be part of the parties.” He sniffed. “I even pulled hay wagon rides fer the kiddies. Now I’m jest an old tractor that cain't do his job properly.”
8N’s memories were interrupted when the garage door rumbled open. “Can I drive it, Grandpa?” A young boy popped under the door before it was barely up.
The farmer ambled in with some other men. They were talking up a storm but the farmer just beamed at his tractor. “It’s old and scarred, but it does the work. Don’t know what I would do without it.”
“Don’t know how you farm and still have the energy to pastor.”
“I sure appreciated what you preached this morning, Brother.”
“Seems like God is sure teaching you some deep lessons through farming.”
The old man shook his head and twisted his cap in his hands. “Sitting on the old tractor gives me a lot of quiet time to think on what I read, not to mention it gives me plenty of one-on-one time with my Father. I thank God every day for this old friend.” He gave 8N a pat as he stepped on to give rides to his grandkids.
One of the men stuck his fingers in one of the deep cracks in 8N’s tires. “I can stick most of my finger in this one, Dad.”
“Hate when they do that… shore tickles.”
“Those cracks were earned just like the ones lining my own face.” A grin showed off his aged “cracks.” “All those dents and scratches have stories behind them. I’ve got my own scars to mark my life experiences. I like a tractor with history and know-how better than one with shine and doodads. “
That evening 8N slept with a rake leaning against him and a kid’s bike toppled underneath. A dirty diaper rested on his seat. Instead of wallowing in memories of what his life had been “back in the day,” he fell asleep with sweet memories of the busy day with the farmer’s family and anticipation of what was yet to come.
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