Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: REDUCE (11/05/15)
TITLE: October Fields
By Zacharia Fox
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I grabbed my carry-on and beat everyone off the plane. Pulling my jacket tight, fighting a wind too cold for October. “Minnesota,” I whispered as I spotted my brother, Don, in his old Ford.
“Just a carry-on?” He asked as I climbed in.
“I don’t trust the airlines.”
“But you trust ‘em with your life?”
I chuckled. “Yep. Can I drive?”
He shook his head and put the truck in drive. “Control freak.”
We rode in silence most of the way to the old farm. Not much had gone unsaid between us. But something new was coming, as inevitable as tomorrow. “How’s Mom?”
“It’s good you came now.”
“Yeah. I can’t stay too long.”
We rode over a perpetually flat expanse of cornfields, a pattern broken only by the lakes that peppered the land, until the eternally familiar crunch-pop of our gravel driveway sounded from beneath the tires.
“You’re home.” Don grinned; sort-of.
I unpacked my bag slowly, until Don’s boots thudded into my old room. “You wanna see her?”
I nodded without looking at him, and followed him to my Mom’s room.
The room was unfamiliar, furnished with medical equipment, except for the paint on the walls and the person sleeping in the hospital bed. But even she was strange.
Why are we all reduced from vibrant to faded, from strong to weak, from life to death? The end of life is an ugly thing.
Her eyes fluttered and found mine. Something stung in my chest, and I turned and walked from the room. I stood on the porch, tears trickling down my face as I looked over our soybeans. The intense green of the June bud had faded, painting the fields in rows of yellow.
The porch creaked behind me. “The winds blowing. It’s cold.”
My hands were numb. “Almost time to harvest?”
“It’s beautiful when it changes.” I leaned on the railing and Don came and stood beside me.
“It was dry this year, so they turned fast.”
I glanced at Don. “They turned because they didn’t get enough water? Because they’re dying?”
Don studied me. “Well, yeah. When that yellow peaks through it means it’s time. They’re ready to harvest.”
I looked back at the rows of gold. Beautiful. Dying. But ready.
We stood listening to the soft rustle of the wind combing through the fields, until Don spoke steady and rustling, as if the wind and fields were speaking. “You wanna see Mom, now?”
When I stepped into her room, she opened her eyes. “Georgie?”
“Hi, Mom.” She held out her hand and I took it. “I missed you.” I knelt down, and she brushed tears from my face.
“I missed you, Georgie.”
“I’m sorry I didn’t come sooner. I… I just.”
She patted my arm. “Don’t you go apologizing.” I stared into her eyes, blue as the Minnesota sky, and found her; my mom. The same mom that read me Bible stories at bedtime, the same mom who’d sowed me the blanket I still kept in my closet, the same mom who’s hands were calloused with the determination to save the farm after my dad left.
She smiled, and the room seemed to brighten. “Coming home takes you back to a time when you were powerless. When you had no control. When your daddy beat you.”
My head sunk to the sheets as I began to heave and cry.
“That’s why you fight so hard for control. You’re running because you’re scared and deep down you feel like a child. You don’t owe nobody no apology. But listen here, Georgie. You got to let go. You got to forgive. And you got to learn to trust again.”
“I’m ready to go, Georgie. Soon Jesus’ll take me. I’ll be in heaven, waiting. Son. Just get there. You take that trembling child you got buried down inside you, and lay him in the arms of Jesus. You’ll find the strength to forgive.”
I gave my heart to Jesus, there by my dying mom. She died that night, beautiful, and ready as the October field. Each year when the soy turns, and the wind rustles through the fields, I can almost hear her whisper, ‘I’m waiting.’
I am an October field, ready for harvest.
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