Today I am a farmer. Everything I grow is dying. There’s a window in the upstairs where she watches. I keep my smile on. I wave into the sun, squinting. She’s dying too; she doesn’t need more worry from me.
When I see the stalks are right, I pull them. Each time thinking, this time will be different. This time I’ll see an intact casing with a hue even and full. I’ll be able to swing them into the bed with confidence, trusting they’ll make a hard thud against the others; a sound indicative of unripeness, a thick promise of rewards to come. I’ll be able to work a fruitful morning before the heat of the sun becomes unbearable with the coming noon. I’ll be able to haul my bounty into the cool of the shed, go in and make lunch, sit with her without fret. Just a regular day with a regular crop.
But it never is.
So many things happen when I pull the stalks. I find myself bracing. There is a clench in my chest and jaw. I suck my breath. I think a quick segment of prayer. A section of words God should be familiar with. I tighten the part of me that threatens to collapse into despair and fear. All of this takes place in the moment before the pull.
When the pull happens, there is a natural release that comes with the process. Taking something out of something else using force has an inherent satisfaction. They way it holds then relents. How it lets go into you; a type of giving. So, there is that feeling, but it is false. It is a trick. The pleasure is as fleeting as sneeze.
With the pull comes the disgust. Which variation will be hanging off the green in my fist? None of them the same, yet all of them bulbous and dripping. All of them with a fecal, rotting stench. The fleshy, oozed gapings exposing further, internal horrors. How many wounds can I pull from the earth?
I want to hurl each one of them. I want to build a pyre and feed them into it. But I cannot. I have no choice but to toss them into the truck bed, hear the wet slap and gurgled cries as they join the growing pile. She is watching from the window. She must see nothing different.
The harvest squirms. My mind screams.
I pull swiftly through the morning, wanting to rid my field of this blight as quickly as I can. The sun is hotter today. I will dump this load next to the one from the previous day, which sits next to the one from the day before which sits next to the one from the day before that. All of them outside the shed, away from the view from her window. I pray the sun has finally burned their wet away, dried them dead. I cannot bear to hear their mewling anymore, the moist squelch of their struggling.
If I know they can die, I know I can be rid of them. I can clear my field and start anew. I can go to her with peace in my heart and tell her everything is just fine and she will smile at me in her new weak way that will make me almost believe it.