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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Endless (01/09/14)

TITLE: Acres of Agony
By Sheldon Bass


He stood staring at his palms. Plow handles grated into raw skin where the blisters split. Heat waves shimmered, radiating up from the soil, while the merciless Oklahoma sun blasted down.

Lifting his gaze from the clods, Brian peered out over the fields yet to be tilled, which stretched on for many acres. He dabbed at his eyes with a red rag to absorb the stinging sweat, and arched an aching back, rubbing the lumbar muscles. Long brown locks clung to his neck and face, as he wearily shook his head back and forth at the prospect of completing such a monolithic task. Brian was accustomed to the high, humid temperatures of Florida, where he’d grown to manhood. But the hard, menial labor was quite new.

Recently discharged from the U.S. Army, he’d tucked those four years of experience under his belt and headed west from the sunshine state in search of big money in the oilfields near Woodruff OK. The farm was temporary, until he could secure a position on a drilling rig. Yet, God had a purpose for this short-term arrangement. A few life-lessons.

Bill McGinnis had hired five hands to help with the plowing. Brian however, was the only one left. The others had all secured highly coveted jobs. Crazy money.

“Why couldn’t I have gotten one of those oilfield jobs Lord? Four positions available—I had to be the one left out.”

With lips squeezed together and scrunched up towards a bulbous nose, his face puckered up, as a pang of self-pity soured his demeanor. The crease between dark, bushy eyebrows deepened.

Sweat was slowly creeping down his light blue tee-shirt, darkening all but a short portion of the bottom edge. It was nearly two in the afternoon and he’d been working since sunup. Arms ached and hands stung. Legs too, were sore from the constant plodding forward, pushing the plow. And Brian felt this day would never end. But he kept going.

As he broke open the earth to receive this season’s seed he began to sing—something he often did to soothe his own heart. It had a way of chasing away thoughts that threatened to color his mind with shades of bitterness.

“There shall be showers of blessings, sent from the Savior above.”

After three verses, the new farm-hand felt a little better.

“Lord, I know I’m supposed to learn something from this. So, I’m going to trust you know what’s best. But I don’t think I’m cut out to be a farmer.”

Continuing on, he sang almost every hymn he could remember. And before realizing it, the job was finally completed. It turned out to be one of the longest days of his life.

Parking the plow in the barn, he stepped to a water trough and plunged his stinging hands into cool water. “Ooh that’s nice.” Then he bent over to splash his face. When he stood erect again, a smiling Mr. McGinnis was standing next to him with an outstretched hand, proffering an envelope.

“You’ve done the work of five men today. Good job.”

The farmer turned and strode back towards the main house.

Gingerly, Brian unsealed his check, expecting the agreed amount. But it was five times that. His face went soft and all the muscles in his body relaxed. On the horizon the sun and clouds were painting a spectacular picture in the sky with reds, yellow, blue and white. Even Florida’s sunsets were never so gorgeous. The sensations creeping through his heart and mind were something new to Brian. The satisfaction of a job well done. He felt good. He’d accomplished something he never thought he’d be able to complete.

“Thank you Lord, for giving me the strength for this day.”

The sound of a pick-up truck motoring into the drive broke his distant stare. A tall man in a Stetson hat and cowboy boots stepped out, taking long strides toward him.

“Brian Walsh?”

“Yes sir, I’m Brian.”

“I’m with Honeymon Drilling out of Oklahoma City. We’re a man shy on the Wellman rig. You still wantin a job?”

The money he’d made from the farm would carry Brian until his first monthly check, which would be much bigger. This was the position he’d hoped for—prayed for. The end of this very long and arduous day, begun with such dread, had culminated into hopes realized.

Brian was certain he heard the Lord say, “Well done.”

(Authors Note: Based on a true personal experience, which taught truths concerning rewards of hard work, trusting God, and illusion of physical limitations.)

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This article has been read 692 times
Member Comments
Member Date
LaVonne Wood 01/19/14
It wasn't the ending I expected. I was kind of hoping he would stick with the farmer job. It's true though that if you do more than is expected of you, God will promote you to a higher position.

I though it was well written. I know what hard work is on the farm when you do your best. Your descriptions made me feel like I was there.

Blessing, LaVonne
Judith Gayle Smith01/20/14
Well done indeed. An engrossing story, terrific descriptions and tensions. I so love happy endings!
lynn gipson 01/23/14
Congratulations on your fine win! Well deserved. I have moved on up to Masters where I am sure I will be swallowed up by the sharks, please join me. You belong there. This is just excellent writing.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 01/25/14
I love this. You pulled me in right away and I was totally immersed in the story to the end. I thought it was a take on the parable Jesus told about the three men who were given money by their Master. It is a powerful thing and is nice to see that God is there in our prayers and hears them. The only suggestion I have is tiny. Because this is an international site, I'd encourage you to write out Oklahoma because not everyone would recognise it as OK. You also did a great job of weaving the topic and sprinkling it all over the story. Congratulations on ranking 1st in your level and 13 overall. Happy Dance!!
Virgil Youngblood 01/28/14
Congratulation on your well deserved placement. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your submission.