Sometimes it's just fun to revisit the past, you know? No drama, no angst, just plain old good times. This here is a story I done wrote and submitted way back in 1993 - I was a sophomore! - to my high school literary magazine. I won High Honors in the "Short Fiction" category for this puppy - I still have the magazine to prove it for all you naysayers. Of course, as an adult, I fully recognize the melodrama that rocks pretty much every line, as well as the misplaced punctuation, overused adjectives and at least one spelling mistake (I left it in, so see if you can find it!). Still, I'm proud of it and of fifteen-year-old me for putting my writing out there to be judged. If we could all be as fearless as our teenage selves...
The sun was just creeping over the horizon as the farmer’s feet hit the floor. Beside him, his wife slept soundlessly. He reached for his heavy wool socks and began to pull them on. Next came his faded denim work shirt. One of those that Maggie had made for him. Maggie, his first wife, his one and only love. He had married Maggie for love, a love that was so deep it could never be filled by another. His present wife, Sarah, he had married for the children. He was comfortable with her and the children liked her well enough, but his life was not worth living without Maggie there to live it day by day with him. But, of course, he and Maggie had been in love, as he and Sarah were not.
He completed dressing, pulling on his faded, patched overalls and cracked leather boots. He walked over to the mirror and studied himself in it. He had not looked at himself for a long time. He hadn’t cared much about his appearance since Maggie had left him. But, yes, as he stood looking at his reflection, he was still as handsome as he had ever been, his beautiful face unmarked by lines. Though his hair had grown shaggy, it was still as black as a crow’s wing. He had an expansive forehead, but his eyes were the color of the cloudless sky. His nose was aquiline, the only trait he had inherited from his father; his mouth was sensitive. His shoulders were immense; they gave him the impression of being a big, strong, beautiful man.
He swung around as he heard a noise. Sarah was just rising and looked at him questioningly.
He gave her a critical stare. She was definitely pretty but his heart was still too full of Maggie and there wasn’t enough room for anyone else. She could have been the loveliest woman on the earth and he still wouldn’t have paid any more attention to her than he already did. But she knew that when she married him and he could not help it. Maybe someday he could learn to love…
But he shook that thought from his mind. He could never love anyone as passionately as he had loved Maggie.
“I’m going out to work. Be back at noon,” were all the words he had to say to her.
As he went out the door, he clamped his straw hat on his head. Maggie had also made that for him, he thought, with a pang of grief as he headed for the barn.
He pushed his hurt aside as he walked into the small barn. He picked up his bag of small, round clover seeds and slipped the strap over his shoulder. He had already plowed up his next section and was ready to plant.
As he stepped out of the barn, the blinding rays of the sun warmed his face. The sun was all above the horizon line now and it blazed down on the golden mass of waving wheat.
He slowly walked over to where he had left off yesterday and began to plant the clover beside the wheat.
He worked endlessly until Sarah rang the noon dinner bell. He suddenly became aware of the childish laughter drifting over from the house. He then thought of his children with a twinge of guilt. He did not look after them like he should. But that was what he had married Sarah for, to take care of them. That had been his promise to Maggie, a pact that they had made shortly after they had been wed. He supposed that he loved his children, but they reminded him too much of his late wife, especially Elizabeth, his oldest child. She was barely thirteen year old, yet she already had the distinct, delicate features of her mother and her father’s jet black hair. She was a symbol of their neverending love. As true as this was, he remembered that for a few weeks after her mother’s death, he couldn’t even bear to speak to her because she was so like Maggie, in almost every way. Now Dane, her ten-year-old brother, was the spitting image of his grandfather. As obstinate as a mule, he thought with a wry smile. The farmer and his father had had many harsh disagreements; he had left as soon as he could make his own way in the world.
Coming out of his reverie, he heard the dinner bell clang impatiently again. He picked up his seed bag and trudged reluctantly back to the barn.
* * *
Night settled in and the moon shone directly into the bedroom. The farmer’s face glistened. Tears were streaming down his cheeks as he cried silently. His grief had become unbearable. He had not wept like this since he had first heard of Maggie’s death. He couldn’t even sit across from Elizabeth a few hours ago at the dinner table; his pain was too great. There was only one thing that he could do to get away from it all. And that was to leave.
* * *
Even before the sun was ready for another day, he was up. He dressed in his work clothes and walked out to the barn with a bundle of clothing, a few food items, and his only picture of Maggie. He put it all into his seed bag and set the straw hat firmly upon his head. He took a look around him. He beheld the trees, the beautiful tree; his house, the one he and Maggie had shared so happily; the barn, his old mule stared at him questioningly; his farmland, the aureate wheat that was blowing in the wind; it was all his.
The sun now shone over all the land, like a brilliant ball of irridescence, and shed its light over everyone and everything on the earth.
He began to make his pilgrimage. He didn’t know where his feet would take him. But it would be somewhere. And as he looked back for one last glimpse of his home, he saw Sarah standing on the front porch. The sun caught the lone tear gliding down her face. She nodded and waved her handkerchief, like a white flag, fluttering in the breeze.
She knew he was leaving, never to return, but yet she knew his pain, understood it, and let him go with a soundless wave of her handkerchief.
A silent wave of his hand was all he gave her before he turned his back to the rising sun and walked into the woods, without looking back.
The farmer, the sower of the gilded wheat, was gone from their lives forever. And yet the sun still continued to shine.