1
min

The Curve

Image of GITA

GITA

489 readings

103 votes

In competition

Wade Harmon died Saturday, driving his John Deere eastward on the back fifty. The tractor idled until it ran out of fuel, and when he didn't come in for lunch, Mavis walked outside and saw it, green and yellow standing out against the long, brown prairie furrows.
She ran to him, but there was no diesel left in the tank with which to carry him home.
My Betty went to their house the next morning with egg-and-bacon casserole and fresh biscuits. They'd laid Wade out in the parlor on a cooling board, the old timey way, in a suit and white shirt, shined shoes and tie.
The next afternoon, people gathered at the graveside to speak of all the ways that Wade had touched their lives. Back in the '60s, Wade had rounded up all the family farmers and started Kansas' first co-op. In those days, we all believed that the communal way of sharing would keep us safe from the long reach of Con-Agra and Archer Daniels Midland, those agribusiness giants spreading across the heartland like a cancer, squeezing the little guy out.
In the 90s, Wade was the first to warn us about Monsanto and the privatization of seeds. Thirty farmers from Coho County drove to Jefferson City and circled the Capitol with our tractors and harvesters in protest.
After the cemetery, folks gathered back at Harmon's farm, some to eat, others to stand by the tractor shed with flasks and tell more stories. Trevor, Wade's eldest, walked me down the rows of spring wheat -- freshly green and hopeful -- to the spot where Wade had died.
Grief has a steep curve, and each of us -- sons, wives, best friends -- has to climb that curve somehow and make it down the other side.
We talked until the light was gone, talked about who would harvest the crop, talked about Mavis' future, about tractors and ethanol and prices of corn. We were just two men on a patch of ground, navigating the curve of grief the best we could while whippoorwills sang their dirge and the stars leaned down a little closer.

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Image of Hugonem
Hugonem · ago
A powerful last song from the country VS the 'City'.
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Image of GITA
GITA · ago
Thank you for the comment. Why no vote?
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Image of Joan
Joan · ago
Thank you for your vote Gita. I like your story I can really picture what arable farming is like in the USA. I found your story touching. Joan
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Image of GITA
GITA · ago
Thank you Joan. Wish you had voted.
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Image of Pop
Pop · ago
Hello GITA:

Very nice story, I like it from the start.

Pop

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Image of GITA
GITA · ago
Thank you, Pop. I appreciate your taking the time to read it!
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Image of Not-Only But-Also Riley
Not-Only But-Also Riley · ago
I have to admit, as a "city boy", a lot of these issues and ideas have never really been given much thought by me. Of course, I've heard of them, and I've understood that they're issues, but they just aren't something I ever see, let alone experience. That said, your story takes these things that are so specific to a certain community, and puts them right next to grief, which is universal and human. I can't help but draw a parallel, and recognize that just as their grief is the same as mine, so is their struggle with their issues. A story that can strike such a realization in me is certainly a good one. And that last line is killer. Great work here.
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Image of GITA
GITA · ago
Ironically, I too am a city girl. Montreal and Atlanta -- no farm background. But I write fiction, and Wade Harmon and community came to me out of the same place as all my fiction does. Now, I did know from reading the news about Con Agra and other megabusinesses taking over family farms. So I used that information to form the spine of the story. Thank you for your thoughtful comments.
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Image of Cathy Rebhun
Cathy Rebhun · ago
Lovely. Vivid characters and scene in just a few words!
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Image of Josh Dale
Josh Dale · ago
Very gritty and reflective of Faulkner's A Rose for Emily. I enjoyed the pastoral element as well.
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Image of GITA
GITA · ago
Thank you for your comment on my story. A few years ago I was in Kansas during the terrible drought and I noticed that all the corn was brown. That image stuck with me and I’ve pondered what it must be like to be a farmer under difficult circumstances. That eventually led to this story.
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Image of waterfallwriter
waterfallwriter · ago
Poignant and powerful. Thank you for sharing this story.
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Image of Jennifer
Jennifer · ago
I loved the title, such a great way to capture the grieving process. The story has enormous integrity in the writing, capturing a way of life and a people.
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Image of Jess
Jess · ago
Love the perspective of this short piece -- great work! Take a vote :D
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