Dusty Grounds

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


No one would assume that fields of dust would interest a farmer’s rye eye. Townfolks chattered when the old man had lost his home, thinking he went mad. A quiet and somber quake had only damaged a few homes, but the old man had lost the most, his family and all. Never talked since then, never accepting help. For all they know, he was a farmer elsewhere and married into the town’s girl. She wanted him to help the saloon so he tended the booze and drunkards for decades. He was never a talker or socially inept but they’ve managed well.

There they saw him again, far flung to the outskirts of town. They chattered again as they saw him plowed the dust with a treebranch hoe. After he dug, the ground would turn back to once it was after a few winds, into a plain dusty ground. Adults would ignore him but kids after school would fancy giving water when the old man was sweaty. Those kids were the only group he would respond to, gently nodding when accepting their cups. Teenagers were not so infatuated and one time they made the old man the hooligan of dares. A person who pulled a strand of hair from him would be praised. But the old man learned to run away from them. That until he was never seen again.

Successive summers passed and the townfolks had forgotten the old man. They stopped sending someone to look after him or leave food, sometimes a sack of supplies. Maybe because the old man’s story was washed away by a distant gossip. One asked, “I think there was an old man ‘round that lone birch.”

A listener said, “Oh, him? We never saw him again.”

“When’s the last time you saw?”

“Oh, I don’t know…been ages and he’s gone for all we know.”

A young man dressed expensively tossed a shiny coin to the passerby who answered. He himself once rode his horse to deliver a letter as he used to be a messenger. It was beside the birch his tired horse struck an old man, who in turn flee but not without dropping a worn out book from his ragged jacket. It was a thin book, personally written with obsessive details of roots.

Clueless if the book is useful, he kept it and went back to his own town. Every night in bed he would read. It was written in confidence that the messenger was convinced and dug his first plot. The rye he then planted were too healthy to be ignored. Squarely, it was interested by another fellow who visited him. The messenger was hired by the visitor, impressed that only talent could make something like that bloom. The rye he grew made his whiskey loved by people and his richness flowed.

He remembered the old man and contemplated that his richness made him almost forget, so he visited back the other town. He wanted to return the book.

The passerby’s cheek turned red and asked, “Perhaps are you that Don whose famous around three leagues away?” eyeing the carriage nearby.

“Yes,” the young man answered.

“Oh, now that I remember, I think I saw that old man you’re looking days ago near that house yonder,” the passerby pointed. “I can show you, but I have to go to my work, early and all.”

The young man saw that the passerby was too eager to stay with him rather than go to work. The passerby eyed at the young man’s clothes, baton and shoes.

The young man caressed the book in his cloak, a messenger’s hand of habit. He remembered a passage, “It won’t say a thing, no matter how you kick it, destroy it. The ground will be there and won’t say a thing. It just gives back something you give. But there are those that won’t give back what you give, and those things are above the ground.”


Submitted: September 21, 2018

© Copyright 2021 Gwim Tikas. All rights reserved.

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