Writer’s Digest has many writing contests for every kind of writer. I’ve entered a few short story contests, but have never even gotten so much as an honorable mention. The short story below was one of my entries. The guidelines were that the story needed to be 750 words or less and incorporate, in some way, the phrase: Love gets him into more trouble than hate ever could. I thought for a while about love/hate relationships. Farming seemed like an obvious choice for an Iowa girl. I thought maybe the idea love/hate of farming might be a fresh one for those east-coasters. Apparently not, but that hasn’t stopped me from trying. I hope you enjoy my short story.
The Iowa Farmer
By Nadine Roth
They sat in his dad’s gravel-road dusted Ford F-150 looking over the sea of spiky green and gold striped leaves crackle and rattle in the breeze. Strong finger like roots dug deep into the black soil of northwest Iowa, searching for water. Ninety-two year old Elsie hadn’t missed a Sunday drive out to the homestead since she’d moved into town. Today her grandson, Charlie, had taken her out to see the fields.
“Grandma, it’s too hot for you to be hangin’ your head out the window like Old Duke does,” Charlie said as he pushed buttons on the armrest. Tinted glass windows whisked shut, making the truck’s cab immediately cooler and darker.
“I’m used to a little hot weather, you know, Charlie.” Cool air blasted from the truck’s air vents. Elsie straightened her wind-blown hair, wrapped her sweater around her sharp shoulders a little tighter, and watched the now silent corn stalks sway.
“I just wish it would rain,” Charlie said almost to himself reaching over to turn the air down a notch.
“The corn doesn’t look too bad, yet, Charlie, leaves are just a little gold tipped, and I think we’re supposed to get rain by mid-week.”
“Grandma Elsie, you’re too optimistic. The corn’s more’n just a little gold tipped. It looks more like harvest time out there than prime growing season. The ground’s so cracked it looks like we tried to grow this stuff in the bottom of an ol’ dried up mud puddle.”
“Charles, your granddad and father have been through this kind of drought and worse. You’ll be fine. We will be fine, young man.”
“Been thinkin’ about selling some cattle. I got people to pay… What do you think, Grandma?”
“This land hasn’t been in our family for over three generations by good luck, you know. You’ll figure it out. This is what you’ve worked for your whole life, Charlie. Why, I remember the first time you drove that old 1976 Deere. You were no more than ten years old, and so proud to be tall enough to drive that tractor. I knew then that you were made for this life.”
“That was twenty years ago. I’m not a kid anymore.”
“But I still see that light in your eyes when you’re working the farm.”
“Sometimes I just hate it, Grandma. I know you don’t like hearing that. But sometimes I think I should just sell it all and be done.”
“I know, I know. But you won’t Charlie. This work is hard. The love of the land and farming will get you into more trouble than hating it ever could. But we keep on. It’s what we do. Now, take me back to the house. I bet dinner is ready.”
Until next time, be good to yourself.
~Nadine(P.S. - I tried to schedule this entry to post while I was out of town last Wednesday. It didn't work. Obviously. My tech skills are sketchy at best. Sorry friends.)