Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Fall In The Orchard

Each step was painful. Arthritis had settled deep into the cracks and fissures of Richard's bones many years ago. Being on the orchard was the only life he knew and the only one he had imagined as a child. It grieved him to watch each of his children flee to a life in the big city. No matter of begging or cajoling had worked to get them to stay. With each child's refusal, he mourned the loss of the orchard as a Perry property more deeply.

Another step up put him within reach of the peaches. He picked them, two to three at a time, and then placed them gingerly into the bucket hanging from the side of the ladder. Another step and another until the good peaches had been picked and the rotten ones hung waiting for the wind to push them off the branches. As he picked he pondered which offer he should accept and what conditions he could put on it.

He took another step up. His eyes were even with the top of the tree. He didn't want to be moved from his home for the remainder of his years. He didn't think he could live among the concrete, planned parks, and carefully landscaped yards that his children preferred. He needed the feel of soil beneath his feet when he walked, the sweet aroma of the peaches in the morning, the sound of wind whipping over the tall grasses in the neighboring prairie to sing him to sleep. It would be humane to ask him to leave.

Nor did he think he could watch other people take over the operations. Big machines would be moved in and the people who helped him harvest would be moved out. He wondered if that could be a condition, at least until those families chose to leave. He'd want them replaced with other warm bodies, but knew it would be too much to ask of the modern farming companies that showed interest in his orchard. He climbed another step with little thought and found himself looking over half the orchard.

God light touched the top of each tree. It was a beautiful sight, stretching on for quite a distance. He wanted to see this blessing fall upon all his trees. he took another step, balancing precariously on the very top of the ladder. God light fell across his face, illuminating him. It was warm, comforting. Wind caressed his skin, kissing his face softly. He heard bird song more sharply without the leaves to dampen the softer undertones. Richard bowed his head, sad that his children were unlikely to ever experience such a moment.

His knees felt weak. Carefully he kneeled down, reaching his left foot out for the step. Placing his weight on the step, he stepped down. A deep exhale and a sudden slip caused him to fall. He lay, looking at the peaches swinging above him, as he bled. The orchard was all that Richard ever knew.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

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