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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Family · #1671681
A city boy learns the way of the farm.
              Every summer my family and I traveled to the family farm. It had become a tradition for us to visit every year and this summer was no different. My aunt Laura and uncle Scott lived in a three story blue house, and my grandmother lived in a small white house next door. The farm was split between several sheds and a gnarled tree which overlooked the rolling hills of corn.

         We were greeted by my uncle Scott, aunt Laura, and my four cousins Jenny, Kelly, Brian, and Dan. I waited with baited breath for the pleasantries to end. Afterwards, the grownups left to their own secluded domain. My cousin Kelly, excited to be freed of formality, wanted to show us the litter of newly born kittens. We wandered to the back of the house, scanning the bushes. If it weren’t for the constant mewling, I would have never found the nest. Beneath a large fern was a well crafted home of straw. Cuddled inside were six kittens, all about the size of my palm. Kelly dove in, grabbing one of the helpless kittens, and hoisted it into her arms. “Her name is Peach!” my cousin declared.

         Before long the sun dropped below the horizon, signaling the day’s end. My aunt and uncle held a strict curfew, and so we were forced to retire for the day.

         I awoke that morning to my cousin Brian smacking me over the head. There were chores to be done, and I had overslept. Even though my family and I were guests we still needed to help with the chores. I will admit the soft feather comforter made it unusually hard to get up that morning.

         My brother and I left the house, the morning air stale, a drought plaguing the area. Enlisting with my uncle Scott, who was known as the “One Man Army,” we were thrown into the back of a mobile monster, the Gator. The Gator was a four wheeler stained with dirt and a red after wash that my cousin Brian insisted was blood. There were only two seats, and they were reserved for the “One Man Army” and Brian. My brother and I sat in the trailer next to the tools. Within seconds, we were rolling down the gravel road at… let’s just say it was at an uncomfortable speed. We fled past the road and into a ditch that led alongside the field, the roar of the engine buzzing in our ears. It was a chore to hang on, let alone dodge the equipment that defied gravity. By the time we reached our destination, I was about ready to give up on my duties to the farm. My uncle simply grunted, saying how “frail” we were and about how he was going to whip us city boys into shape. After offloading the Gator, we were briefed on the mission, which was to cut down the weeds that had claimed the beet field. Each of us was given a rusty handled shear, except for my uncle, who proudly brandished a machete. After the briefing we split up in search of our quarry. The beet field was an alien world to me. I had to tackle a weed the size of a full grown sunflower! We worked tirelessly, clearing the rows of weeds. Towards the end, we met up with my uncle again. He stood, machete thrust into the ground, sun reflecting upon the sweat of his brow, painting the kind of picture that said, this is America!

         We returned for supper triumphant, with our mission a success.

         As the days progressed, our jobs got harder. From picking rock to bailing hay, we got a taste of true farm work. It would be a lie to say I didn’t enjoy it.

         The evening before our departure back to the cities, we gathered around the gnarled tree to tell stories. A full moon was out. It glowed an eerie red that dyed the cornfield crimson. My cousin Jenny was a master storyteller. She told stories of grand adventure and tales of woe. When the stories were over, we sat around like old philosophers and talked about the future. Kelly, in her usual random fashion asked, “Where do you think we will go when we die?” We pondered the question, and it was Jenny who answered. She pointed to the sky and said, “The moon, silly!” All of us laughed.

         I awoke the last morning to screams. Throwing on whatever I could, I rushed outdoors to see what had happened. Kelly stood crying over a patch of grass. There, underneath the greenery, was a mutilated piece of flesh. The patches of fur told the story. It was Peach. The kitten had been killed by a stray dog or a hungry animal. We never found the true culprit. I stood silently as everyone filed outside to see what had happened. My cousins tried to calm their distraught sister with little success. I could almost taste the iron in the air as it began to rain. My aunt carried Kelly away from the scene as one by one we all left. Life on the farm could be cruel.
© Copyright 2010 Michael Schultz (1hivemind at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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