the farm, one cold night in February

24 Aug

This is something I wrote the other night. I plan on writing much more about this, but it’s all I have for now.

We left for the farm. The care was quiet and dark, filled only with thickness of possibility. Anything could happen. We had one night, that was all. He switched on the radio and started singing along with the sad song, whispering softly the words only he knew. I marveled at how I ever fell in love with him, at how some things don’t matter–like how he listens to country music and wears the same thing every other day, how his shoes are falling apart and his winter coat doesn’t zip up all the way, how his teeth have little gaps in them that could have been fixed with braces. These little outward peculiarities were, and are, things I’d never want changed.

It was the first time I’d ever been in his car, and I studied him driving, the way his one hand rested lightly on the steering wheel and the other in-between our seats. I remember the time he told me he loved driving. I could see it in him now, the relaxation at the wheel.

It seemed strange then, that he never drove the few hours to close the gap between us. In the end, it must have been a space he didn’t want bridged after all, though he often said he did.

He glances over at me, occasionally, as if it’s hard for him to believe it’s actually me sitting there next to him. After so long, after so much, it’s almost too difficult being there with him in so intimate a space. It’s surreal. I wished he’d reach over to touch my hand again, anything at all, so I’d know it’s really him and it’s really me, a sign or movement of some sort to shatter the glass between us. But he doesn’t. It about kills me.

We’re talking ridiculous talk, about whether or not we like the little city we’re driving through and how long it will take to get to his home town to see his grandparents farm. Just underneath these words is so much I do want to talk about: Could we ever be, again? Could he ever fall for me? Were there any feelings left?

 “There’s their house,” he says, pointing to a tidy farm house with blue shutters and a white picket fence. He slows for me to look at it. “They’re probably asleep by now, or else I’d take you in to meet them, my grandparents.”

We turn the corner and he waves his hand over the expanse of fields, “This is all theirs, too. I go deer hunting through these fields.”

All the phone conversations are brought into sharp focus as I place him in this environment. My imagination is both confirmed and corrected as he shows me the place he’s told me so much about– his world, the world of a farm boy, a world so different from my own…

We turn in toward the barn on the other side of the road. I fumble with the car door, frozen with ice, finally managing to swing it open. I step into the chill t winter night. He starts walking toward what he calls the dairy, and I follow along, dodging ice spots and mud holes, hurrying to keep up with his quick pace.

It‘s warm, dry, and dim inside the dairy. “Over there is where we keep the cows,” he says. “So, this is it. This is where I spent my summer.”

“I, I like it,” I stammer.

He laughs. “Come on, I’ll show you the barn.”

We crunch through the snow, still and quiet underneath a full moon, almost eerie in it’s ghostly brightness. We follow along a narrow path matted down by footsteps. The barn is pitch black inside until he switches on a light, which is just enough to illuminate the biggest tractor I’ve ever seen.

“Do you want to sit in it?” he asks, completely serious.

I doubt whether or not I’ll be able to make it in. The seat is so high. He laughs again and points at the footstep. I hoist myself up into the seat, place two hands on the steering wheel and look down at him.

“So, how do I look?”

 “Like a natural”

“You want to come up here with me?”

He says we should probably be going. I jump back down onto the barn floor in one less than graceful movement and follow him back outside into the still night.

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2 Responses to “the farm, one cold night in February”

  1. Justin August 30, 2009 at 3:26 am #

    Looks like a mixture of fact and fiction, as usual. And as usual, I’m interested to see how it develops. I don’t know what kind of comments you’re looking for, if any, so I’ll just point out a couple things that caught my eye.

    “I marveled at how I ever fell in love with him.” This sentence leaves me unsure about how the narrator feels. “marveled” here is an interesting word choice. It’s generally positive, but in context it could go either way. She could be saying “falling in love with him was unexpected but wonderful.” or she could be second guessing herself: “what did I ever see in him?”

    It’s not necessarily bad that it’s unclear. Maybe you want to leave it unclear because the narrator is unclear in her own thoughts. Maybe it’s an ambiguous tone for a reason. Or maybe you meant a clear tone but you just need to rewrite your sentence. It depends.

    I love this: “But he doesn’t. It about kills me.” These short stubs of sentences following a long heartfelt one is like blunt trauma to the head. In a good way. I like to do that too. Adds punch.

    I also like your ending. “He says we should probably be going.” A simple but symbolic exchange between the two of them. And I don’t know if you meant this, but summarizing what he said as a narrator instead of giving him a quoted voice to answer her question does a nice job of carrying the narrator’s loneliness. Lack of quotation creates a sense of quiet, and that leaves our narrator left hanging, unanswered.

    P.S. This is clearly written by someone who understands heartbreak. Unfortunately.

  2. slippedink September 3, 2009 at 11:00 pm #

    Thanks for the comment. Actually this one is all factual. I didn’t think much about the word marvel when I chose it, but in retrospect I suppose it’s a combination of the two meanings you attributed to it. I did end the way I did for a reason, and you’re right, the lack of quotation conveys loneliness- a fitting way to end the scene.

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