Starr stood on the edge of the field and called to her horses. She looked left, then right, then called them again. On the third call, you could see them running toward her from a great distance. With my trusty Nikon in hand, I prepared to capture the moment. As I watched the horses, partially concealed in the tall grass, gently kicking dust up into the air, I regretted not bringing my 300mm with me and regretted more that I didn’t have an even longer lens.
Category: Stories Page 3 of 6
About a week or so before my seventh birthday, my family climbed into my grandma’s gold station wagon. We were headed out to the Fair Oaks Drive-In to see this new movie everyone was talking about. It had opened on May 25, 1977, but this was the first time my mom could take us all.
Anyone who has seen me during winter for the last three decades has likely seen me wearing my green sweater. Shortly after moving out of the dorms at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and into my first apartment, I had a conversation with my grandmother about being cold. I was on a budget and heat wasn’t high on my list of priorities. Gram wondered if I couldn’t afford to turn the heat up, why didn’t I wear a sweater. I didn’t have one. I didn’t have the money to buy one.
By the time I left her house in Middletown, New York, I had a pocket full of cash to buy a sweater of my choosing. It took months to find a sweater I liked.
There was still a little bit of light outside. I suspect in a week or two, it will be dark outside at 6 p.m. Fall is in full swing and winter is nipping at the edges of the day, anxious to arrive and take over. The temperature was in the mid-forties. I parked my car in the empty K-Mart parking lot, got out and dialed her number.
I sat on the cold, concrete parking bumper. The chill instantly went through my blue jeans. I was shaking, but I wasn’t sure if it was because of the cold or everything else.
She answered on the fourth ring.
We walked across the valley together, but as we began traversing the field of tall grass, Paul and I started to separate from the pack of humans. Without saying a word, we both felt instinctively that being bunched up and near each other was a dangerous thing.
We all continued toward an outcropping of trees in the distance, maybe two hundred yards away. Our journey had taken us from our village through two valleys as we avoided other villages on the way. It was said, once we passed the field of tall grass, we would reach the river and then the hills of sand before we would be safe.
According to the stories, once we crossed the river, we would be safe, but no one ever returned from the hills of sand to be sure. Still, we had all decided to make the journey together.
I placed the half-full bucket of black walnuts on the ground and took a deep breath. For Gram, it’s not so hard to carry, but I’m still little and half-full is more than enough for me. I turned around and looked back toward her back yard, full of trees, scanning the surface to see if I had missed any black walnuts.
It was day nine or ten living on the basement couch. Hours had been spent staring at the wall, the ceiling, the floor. I knew every flaw in everything in the room. I saw the cracks in the ceiling. I saw the holes in the wall. I traced the outline of missing parts of floor tile with my eyes. I didn’t care about any of it at all.