Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: Labor (04/19/04)
TITLE: To Hoe Or Not To Hoe
By Naomi Deutekom
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Amelia leaned on the handle of her hoe. She was hot and tired. She swallowed the dirt in her throat and coughed.
“Melia,” shouted Pa. “Get back to work. There will be time to rest later.”
“Yes, Pa,” she muttered under her breath. She lifted her hoe and started working again. Her hands were sore, her back was sore, but most of all her heart was sore.
“Lord, why did we have to come here?” she spoke to God, her only friend, as if he were standing next to her. “I know, Pa just had to come to that last Canadian frontier.” She gazed out over the horizon. She could see a few trees in the distance, but mostly there was only prairie grass.
“I thought Edmonton was the last place on earth, but that was before we came north to the great Grande Prairie,” she sighed and hit the ground with the blade of her hoe. She hit it again and again, until her hands vibrated and she shook with fatigue. “I don’t want to be here Lord, I don’t, I don’t, I don’t.” She continued hitting the soil until she felt Pa standing beside her.
“Girl,” he said. “If you keep up like that, your gonna kill yourself. Here take a drink and go back to the house.”
“Pa, I wanna go to school, not dig in the dirt.” she said. Tears streamed down her face. She couldn’t control them. Going north had stolen her dream. She could no longer hide her disappointment. She saw the look of hurt on her father’s face.
“I know Melia, but there weren’t no money. Takes money to board in Edmonton. High School just cost too much.” he said. “We didn’t have it then and we don’t have it now.”
Amelia tried to control her tears. “I know Pa, but in Edmonton, I could have gotten a job.”
“There will be no more talk of school or Edmonton,” he said. “Go home and rest. Make peace with this, because it ain’t gonna change.”
“Make peace with it,” she thought as she walked back to the house. That seemed impossible. “With God all things are possible.” The verse flitted through her mind, reminding her that her Lord knew what was in her heart. “He will make a way.” she said aloud. “It may not be school, but I know I need peace.”
“Amelia,” Ma said as she entered the house, if you could call this little log structure a house. “What in heaven’s name have you done to yourself child.”
Ma pulled out a chair and set Amelia in it. Ma put water in a basin and bathed her hands, then wiped the tears from her face. She worked quietly, finally bandaging Amelia’s hands.
“I heard today that a preacher is starting a church by the creek. They say he has lots of education and wants to start a school in the fall,” Ma said. “Maybe he can help you study.”
Amelia lifted her eyes and looked into her mother’s face. “How did you know?” she asked.
“I’m your mother,” she said. ‘You work so hard to hide how you feel. Amelia, I have known you for sixteen years. You are the daughter of my heart, how could I not know.” Another tear slipped down Amelia’s face.
“Ma,” she said. “Do you think Pa will let me study?”
“You may have to work more and study less, but I think we can work it out,” Ma said. “I’ll talk with your father and we will both pray for God’s wisdom. He knows what we need and puts good desires in our hearts. He will make a way. Now, go take a nap.”