Fiction: The Thought of Summer
Written by -M. Taggart
The Thought of Summer
The barn was dank. Inside the bull’s stall was worse. It was dark and he’d left the lamp at the house. He couldn’t always see what he was digging his shovel into, but it didn’t matter it was all the same.
His friends were in the ravine. He imagined Nick fishing in the large pool near the road and Pete walking barefoot further downstream. Pete wouldn’t be fishing, he’d most likely look for bait and return what he scavenged to Nick. Nick would catch a few trout and gut them there on the road. Then he’d wrap the trout in tin foil and put them in his pocket and head for home, or he’d put them under a rock in the brook to stay cool.
The bull’s waste smelled ripe. He didn’t mind the smell. He didn’t mind working the stall. He’d do this for his grandfather every time it needed to be done. He only thought of the ravine because it was the first day of school break. He remember telling his grandfather he’d clear the stall, but he wasn’t sure why he’d selected the first day of break. He knew Nick and Pete would be waiting for him. He’d forgotten to tell them he wouldn’t be there. It wasn’t a problem, other than that he’d forgotten to tell them and that didn’t feel right to him. He should have told them.
He dug his shovel deep into the manure and let it stand on his own. He walked out of the dark stall and into the open area where hay was stacked before being lifting into the loft. The sunlight, coming from the open barn door, looked as clean as anything he’d seen. It cut through the shadows of the barn and brought with it a smell of fresh air. Outside, he squinted his eyes hard. He could hear the chickadees talking back and forth and crows cawing just as they took flight from a large oak.
He noticed the wind playing with the leaves on the oak. The leaves were flipped over forcefully. Then all leaves on every tree were flipped and pushed in the same direction. The wind picked up dust from the corn field and come toward him. He looked from the leaves, to the corn field, back to the trees. Just behind the row of oak, maple, and pines was the entry to the ravine.
The first clap of thunder was so loud he ducked and then squatted covering his head. The sky became black and purple. He wasn’t sure when it had happened, but it had and now it was. A strap of lightening struck the oak the crows had flown from. A large branch crashed its way down into the ravine. He crawled to the barn. Rain was mixed with hail and had beaten him in the few short feet he made his way through the field on his stomach back to the barn. He was drenched and covered in mud. He felt his body running into the barn but his mind wanted to know about Nick and Pet. He thought he had seen tops of trees flying through the air. He’d never seen anything like that and he wasn’t sure.
And now he hunkered in the same stall he’d been working in. He’d made a small indent in the manure which was not level with the rest of the floor and he felt safest there, with his face in bull waste. He felt the need to pull the manure over him like a blanket. His ears popped. He could feel the barn moaning. It creaked loudly and he heard what sounded like a portion of the barn roof ripping away. He covered his neck and breathed the moist air and tried to pin himself as deep as possible into his small sanctuary.
What of Nick and Pete, he thought. The storm raged and they were in the ravine. He’d seen the lightening hit the oak. And seen pieces of trees in the air. If he had told them he’d be working in the stall they wouldn’t have gone to the ravine to wait for him today. They always meet on the first day and now this. He promised himself to never forget how he felt. To always remember. But, would they have still gone? Maybe, he thought. None of that matters though, he told himself. Because now he’s stuck to the thought of it and that can’t go away, not matter what. He created this, the thought of it, the remembering and now he’s here in the stall waiting.
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