Fiction | May 17, 2022


Linda Wastila 


The late May morning I drove east from Chapel Hill, I didn’t pay much mind to the tracts of yellowed corn and soy or the tobacco-curing sheds standing derelict. As I headed home, Ma beside me, my junior year and final exams behind me, all that filled my head was catching up on sleep and getting ready for my summer internship at the National Institutes of Health. 

“Fred Jarvis had a heart attack over Easter,” Ma said. “Didn’t get the seed in. Probably a good thing, what with this drought.” 

“I hope you made him pay the lease,” I said. 

“Don’t be cold, Clayton. Poor man’s bedridden.” 

“Jesus, Ma. He has kids to help. We can’t afford to take on his two-hundred-acre problems.” 

She patted my thigh. “Don’t worry. I leased ten acres to a girl from up north. She’s farming daylilies.” 

The space behind my eyes pinched. “Flowers? Now there’s a real moneymaker.”  

Ma got quiet and scribbled in her sketchpad. I mumbled an apology. She coughed low in her throat, polite, like she was holding back.  

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