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Rated: 13+ · Fiction · Dark · #2235758
A lot goes on in those Midwest cornfields
(589 words)

I never should have hired Rafe. He knows corn alright, but he’s unreliable. The joke around the county is that he’s been employed everywhere but hasn’t worked anywhere. I’ve always believed that a man should work his own patch. Still, the corn is high, and there’s just too much for one man to handle at harvest time. Martha and I weren’t blessed with children to help work the farm, so I have to hire a hand in the fall.

Rafe surprised me by showing up on time and putting in a full day for an entire week. We got a lot done, but there’s still a lot to do. It was less surprising that he spent so much time sampling Martha’s lemonade and home-made cookies. He should have carried a water bottle and stayed in the field, but a man like that just can’t seem to resist helping himself to whatever he wants.

Martha seems to enjoy Rafe’s foolishness. She’s a bit younger than I am, and I guess she gets lonely out here in the cornfields. Still, it ain't polite for them to be smiling and laughing together and then go quiet when I come by. A hired hand should earn his pay and then go home. And a wife should tend her own garden.

It was hard on both of us when Rafe stopped showing up for work, but it was really for the best. I guess I’d always known he'd let me down. He spent too much time in the kitchen and not enough time in the corn. Martha was too distracted to even get supper on the table some nights. I would’ve had to do something about him sooner or later.

Lem Johnson came by and complained about the scarecrow. His kids are spooked, and he wants me to take it down. I tried to be polite, but a man should work his own patch. If his kids don't like the scarecrow, then they don't have to look. Martha likes that scarecrow, and that’s all that matters to me.

Martha’s been unhappy for several days. I think she misses Rafe, and that distresses me. She wants to go away for a while, but she ought to know better. Harvest time can make or break a farm, and I need her here. A woman’s got to tend her own garden.

I went to town for groceries, and Lem cursed at me. He doesn’t understand. Those scarecrows aren’t there to spite my neighbor. They don’t have anything to do with Lem or his fool kids. But I’m not going back to that town anyway. They think Martha ran off with that lazy Rafe. They won’t look me in the eye and I don’t want anyone’s pity. I can take care of myself.

It's lonely without Martha, and I don't like cooking my own supper. The nights seem longer, but I'm sleeping less. Sometimes I think I can hear Martha and Rafe laughing in the dark. And sometimes I join in, but I don't know why. I just have to keep working, the corn is all that matters now.

It’s damned hot in the corn. It’s humid too, without even a hint of a breeze. No one’s been by for quite a while. I’d be glad to see a crow or even a cloud. I don’t think the sun will ever go down. A man should work his own patch, but this field seems to go on for eternity. And the nail in my back hurts like hell.

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