Tuesday, November 01, 2011

A Cottage in a Cornfield

Alice.  Folks called her man Joe the King of the Castle, so that made her Queen Alice in her Palace.  Sigh.  The house was perched at the top of a hill, 16 trees and a long driveway down, down to the road, a picture in a a fairy tale book.  From that road up to the house, circling fields like approaching Burnam Wood.  Corn.  A thousand acres of  muttering stalks rattling their saber leaves.
Alice didn't go down the driveway much, and the television cable service didn't reach this far from town, so she read.  A lot.  A book is an escape and this damsel wanted nothing more than to flee Elsinore.  On the coffee table, in fact is her most recent read.  Although it's about many, many other things, the explanation of the mother figure's absence has struck something in Alice.  A woman, the wife, mother goes into the field, lies down, and lets the earth reclaim her spirit.  She just walks into a snow storm, and dies.  No elaborate death prose, no bloody savagery, no prolonged lingering suffering.  Just alive, then dead.  Out in a field.  Covered, one would assume, with snow. Since reading that, she's been fascinated with the idea of lying down out there.  Out there.  In the corn.  There's no snow storm, it doesn't even rain much in September, but the field calls her.   She is, after all, a woman too.  A wife.  A mother.
Standing at the kitchen window, Alice works out the logistics.  Send Joe off in the morning with his two thermoses full of Nescafe and Coffee Mate, his peanut butter and jelly, his four apples and two cookies.  Wash up the dishes, make the bed, put a chuck roast and some new potatoes in the crock pot.  Really, a chicken would be overdone by supper if she started it now.  Hang the dish towels up on the clothesline, and leave the basket out there to gather them back in this afternoon.  Cross the side yard.  It looks like the deer might have been coming up from the creek, Joe’ll need to shred some  more Irish Spring around the hostas.
The corn’s almost dry enough.  The silks are close to black, the stalks brown, the leaves almost there too.  Joe’ll start running the harvesters by next week.  Wait too long and run the risk of fall rains, or snow.  Jump the gun and the feed’ll rot before it gets to the dryer.  Tricky business, industrial farming.
The sky’s clear blue today.  Like one assumes the ocean is, having never actually seen it.  A small cloud every now and again.  Birds circle above her.  A hawk on a field mouse?  No, a crow.  A pair of them.  A murder of them.  After the earth reclaims her spirit, Alice wonders, what’ll come for the rest, the combine or the crow?  Tricky business.

1 comment:

dee said...

Nicely done Dorothy. I'm really enjoying these stories.
Alice is woman living what seems like a simple life with a complicated mind. She seems depressed and misunderstood. Unfortunately, I can sort of relate.