I woke up before my alarm. A distant square of eerie half-twilight from the window held the familiar outline of the locust tree. In the dark, I fumbled to dress without waking my parents. I slipped outside.
The sun was still below the horizon but the clouds above the mountains were tainted the color of pomegranates. Around me the shadows seemed empty. I tried not to look into the brush as I walked down the driveway. I had stopped before, looking to see the back of the shadows; staring hard, only to have them retreat from my eyes indefinitely. Invisible birds called from within. Their sound followed me down the driveway and onto the road.
As I walked I let my eyes close and my feet feel the groove in the gravel. My mind, still asleep, dreamt of breathing. The lining of my father's old coat escaped inside the pockets and caught my fingers, which were numb from the cold. I would have worn gloves but the sun would be unbearable later in the day. The clouds would rise over the mountains and disappear and the birds would slowly become silent as the heat settled in. But for now it was just cold. I tried to warm my neck by breathing down the collar. It smelled like diesel and sweat.
A half a mile down the road, when I reached the edge of the lentil field, I started to run. I leapt over yesterday's windrows and headed towards the swather, sitting silent and small where I'd left it at the top of the hill. Panting but no longer cold, I climbed up to the seat. I had to pull the choke to make it start. The sound drowned out the birds, making a bubble of dust and noise.
The vibration and the heat of the engine woke my senses. As I started around the unfinished piece of the field I looked to see how much there was left to do. Ma...
... middle of paper ...
"So you're leaving in a few days." He shook the ash off his cigarette and looked over at me. He wouldn't be going away that fall. He'd been offered a scholarship to the University of Idaho, just twenty miles from home.
"Yeah. I should start packing tonight," I said.
"Ah, just throw in a toothbrush."
"Yeah, maybe you're right...Hey, let me know if my dad doesn't get you a paycheck right away."
"Uh-huh." We paused and listened to the crickets as we spoke. He lay back on the hood. "I'm going to miss you, Kid."
"I'm going to miss you too."
"This farming thing is kind of fun, you know? I've really enjoyed hanging out with you."
I smiled. "You like it, huh?"
"Yeah. It's not so bad."
I didn't know if he meant the time with me, or the farming. We were silent again. The harvest moon was rising, big and orange and heavy.
"Yeah, it's not so bad."
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