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|Empty Harvest (standard:horror, 1452 words)|
|Author: David Engar||Added: Aug 18 2002||Views/Reads: 2022/1256||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|Nostalgic visit to the farm.|
We arrived in the late afternoon. My father pulled the work van onto the sharp upward slope of the dirt drive just as the first signs of dusk put a red haze across the western sky. The clanking van crested the hill and the house crawled up to greet us. Plainly designed, the farmhouse was like the bitter woman who had owned it. The broad shoulders of her rectangular form were square to the road, allowing her to scowl condescendingly at passing strangers. The large attic on a one story frame denied her a normal height; instead it formed a hunched back of not quite two levels. And the full-length porch became a furrowed brow over her dark, peering windows. She sat far up from the road on a tall hill in a large yard empty of trees, yet; on clear sunny days she bent away the sun's rays, keeping herself in gloomy shadows, as if the light could not penetrate her self-inflicted loneliness. The outbuildings: the old pig sty, the granary, the crumbling silos, and the shed all shared a calm acceptance of fate. Even the old barn, with its base of crumbling stones, its two stories of dilapidated wood leaning dangerously to the left, and its roof of rotting wood shingles was content somehow; satisfied with its brief existence. But she was stubborn like her master: her dark, foreboding windows remained unbroken; her slightly dipping roof held functioning shingles; and the missing paint chips showed the grain of still serviceable wood. Clinging to her illusions with sinister pride, yearning for absolution from her altered reality, she was the bearer of dark secrets, a depraved custodian of sins and denials. No longer conscious of her age, waiting on that lonely hill, she refused to die unsatisfied. My father, LeRoy, had spent the hour grilling me about my mother. He would habitually try to use me like a foppish fifties housewife would use a new neighbor as a source for gossip. He demanded that I choose a side, betray all other trusts, and consistently spew forth an array of vile and contemptible acts performed or orchestrated by his imagined enemies. Accused offenders were my mother, anyone allied with her, including my other siblings not specifically opposed, or anyone unwilling or unable to perceive the horrible affliction she imposed upon his grand righteousness. Never mind the verbal abuse, the threats, the inevitable explosions of rage and violence. Ignore the night spent fleeing across neighbors yards, desperately pounding, searching for a Samaritan willing to take in and protect the strangers cowering at their back door in their underwear, begging for sanctuary. Forget also the humiliating questions from school children after news reports of his public displays of suicidal passion such as his demand for my mother's reacceptance to a squad of public servants as he dangled from the roof of a water tower. This was not proper conversation; psychotic acts performed in a throw of passion were to be dismissed, concealed, never to be spoken again. Eventually, if the events were dismaying and atrocious enough, the entire community would discard their memories. It was better etiquette to drill the young spy on the nature of his mother's whoring ways and the details of her and her associates elaborate plots to destroy him. The bitter, silent pauses and lack of responses quickly lent themselves to one-sided debates over the “child's” degree of brainwashing by ultra-liberal femi-Nazis. All occasions led to anxiety, a desperate need for a journey's end, and great relief at any opportunity to leave the confines of the moving prison. Escaping made the clean, cold air revitalizing and I took several deep breaths while peering out at the fields and pastures. I noted the cloud of dust where, miles away, an invisible car traveled the gravel roads. To the north and east, the pasture, with its hoof-worn, knobby hills and wayward, tottering creek, resembled old skin, taut over knotted, bony high points, while creasing and crinkling in low valleys; huddles of cattle slowly moved across it. To the south and west, decapitated cornfields, still filled with bent and broken shafts, spanned for miles; only a few dusty roads separated the scenery. Few farms, the closest more than a mile, broke the horizon. Even my family's farm, at the far end of the pasture, was concealed from view by the faltering barn. I was always amazed how insignificant and menial I could feel in the presence of a vast open landscape, especially in the bitter cold of December. Wind carried the sound of creaking boards and hollow pounding footfalls. LeRoy, no longer having a captive target for interrogation, was on the porch removing a rusty padlock with one of the million keys on his key Click here to read the rest of this story (63 more lines)
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