The wind whispered through the cornfield. As the sun set beyond the furthest row, each leaf glistened dark green from the afternoon rain. The only sound was the soft murmuring of the stalks, slowdancing with the breeze. It smelled of late summer – of soft rain, sunshine, clean earth, and life..
She knelt down and dug her fingers into the dirt. It was cool and sent a tiny chill through her. Safe. She breathed in deep the warm summer smells and closed her eyes. This is a good thing, she thought. She opened her eyes and stared at the setting sun. This is the only good thing. She pushed her fingers deeper into the dirt, rocking back and forth to match the corn. Silently she prayed to the corn to let her stay there, let her fingers push down, root in and listen to the earth; let it feed her, love her, keep her safe.
She stayed there until the last ray disappeared behind the cornfield. Time was nothing there; just listening, praying, listening, rocking. Listening. Safe. That night chill that told her autumn was near brought her back from her reverie. She sighed heavily, a sigh that holds back the pain, and slowly caressed the earth, making small circles on either side. She stood up, turned and started back to her old yellow Pinto. She drove home. Her foot rested as lightly on the accelerator as she could make it, keeping the car at a crawl. Funny thing about cars, though, is that they almost always take you to where you’re going faster if you don’t want to go. Before she knew it, she saw the familiar “Starlite, Starbrite Mobile Park” sign she had seen so many times. She passed the homes colored in faded pinks, blues and dirty beige that have been the backdrop of her life for twenty-four years. She pulled up next to the house she was born in and shut off the car. This is it, she thought, this is the last time. Stepping out of the Pinto, she took a deep breath and steadied herself against the hood. She looked at the mobile home, and a brief memory flashed through her mind. Her mother sitting in a white plastic lawn chair, smoking a cigarette and sipping her usual gin and tonic. “That’s a great job, Kippy.” Sip. “It’s right about the best birthday present I’ve ever had.” Drag. Exhale. Sip. “Come here and let me give you a kiss, baby.” Sip. She had surprised her mom for her birthday by saving up her allowance for paint and brushes to paint the house. She was fourteen then. Ten years ago. Her mom had picked out a deep shade of green, the green of deep forests. She had liked the color. Now, in the grisly sodium light, the chips and cracks of the paint were all too visible. No longer the green of safe, cool trees, it was now faded, pale and sickly. She walked up the steps slowly, not even flinching at the creak of the screen door that had always sounded like nails on a chalkboard to her.
To be continued…