Flash Fiction Friday: The Old Farm

This story came from a writing prompt back in May. Enjoy.

The Old Farm

Jason sat in the second pew from the front, behind his dad and mom, Bart and Erin. Bart was the oldest son, his sister Ann and her husband, Clive sat beside them. Last in the front pew was his uncle Glen, the youngest, and his wife Mary. Grandma Carol sat at the end on the center aisle, tears dripping silently down her cheeks.

As the oldest grandchild he was on the end too, he leaned forward and patted her on the shoulder. She turned slightly and reached across herself to pat his hand. After the service they assembled in the old farmhouse where she’d raised her three children. He came into the kitchen with a pile of dirty paper plates after the guests had left. His father was talking to his grandmother across the table. His mom was at the table too, his aunts and uncles stood around the kitchen, leaning against the cabinets and the sink.

“It’s for the best, Mom,” Bart told his mother. “You’re out here all by yourself.”

Jason felt a flash of anger, his father was always the bully, always knew what was best for everyone else. His grandmother looked exhausted; paler than even an 82 year old should be. “She’s tired, Dad,” Jason dropped the paper plates in the huge trash bag in front of the kitchen door. “Why don’t we talk about it tomorrow?”

His father glared. Jason raised his eyebrows. He knew his father hated that.

“It doesn’t need to be decided tonight, whether she stays here or goes somewhere else.” Jason put an arm around his grandmother. “Come on, Grandma. I’ll walk you up to your bedroom.”

When he came down the rest of the aunts, uncles and cousins had left. They all lived in the surrounding towns and could drive home. Jason and his parents were staying overnight.

“I wish you would have let me handle this, Jason,” his father said as he tied the garbage bag closed. “She can’t stay here at her age. We’ve found a perfect retirement home for her. It’s right near us. We can visit every weekend. The sale of this old farm will pay for everything.”

His father was a complete type ‘A’ personality. His mother too, he thought. Everything has to happen right now. “It’s not the time, Dad. It’s been a long day and she’s tired. Cut her some slack.”

His mother turned from the sink where she was washing up serving plates and glasses. “We’re only going to be here another day, Jason. It has to be settled.”

Jason shrugged and went into the living room to finish cleaning up. He wasn’t going to win this argument. They and his aunt and uncle had left the farm as soon as they could. They all made fancy careers for themselves. They let him and his cousins come back in the summer. Jason remembered jumping out of the hay lofts, gathering eggs, learning to drive the big John Deere tractor for his grandfather. Shelling peas with his grandmother under the big old oak tree in the side yard, watching the sun set over the fields was the best part of the day.

Later, in bed, he watched the stars wheel through the night sky, listening to the night animals rustle through the fields outside his bedroom window. In the morning, he was up at the first light of day. He’d done alright in college. He graduated with a solid B average in business. But in the eight years since then he had hardly moved from the entrance level position as a mid-level manager in the computer company he’d joined after graduation. He hated the cubicle life and the constant backstabbing and political jockeying that went with being in a large company.

He walked out into the fields and from a small hill watched the sun come up over the farm. The rooster crowed; a lonely sound this early in the morning. He smiled to himself at the thought of his mother cursing the bird as she pulled the pillow over her head. All of the tension of yesterday left him. He could feel it just draining away into the earth he sat on. The birds began their morning songs as the sun peaked up over the horizon.

The morning dew soaked his sneakers and jeans as he walked back to the kitchen. He knew his grandmother would be up, making coffee and biscuits. He could smell the coffee as he opened the screen door. “Morning, Grandma,” he gave her a kiss on the cheek, her flour covered hands held up in the air.

“Mornin’ Jason.” She went back to rolling out the biscuit dough. “You’re up early.”

He slumped into a kitchen chair, watching her roll the dough. “Yeah, couldn’t sleep.”

She nodded. “Change can do that.”

“Are you going to move to that fancy retirement home?”

She cut the biscuits with a cutter twice as old as he was. “Probably. I can’t keep the farm up by myself.” She paused, the cutter half way to the dough. “I’m getting tired, Jason.”

“Hmm,” he said.

He was slathering his grandmother’s wild blackberry jam on the still hot biscuit when his father and mother came into the kitchen. They poured coffee and sat down. His mother wrinkled her nose at the biscuit. “How can you eat that as soon as you get up?”

“I’ve been up for hours,” he said, then popped half the biscuit into his mouth. “How much are you going to ask for the farm?”

his father stirred milk into his coffee. “I looked up an estimate before we came. I think we can get at least a million for it.”

Jason nodded. “I have some money saved. I’d like to buy it.”

He glanced over at his grandmother, standing at the sink washing up the mixing bowl. She gave him a wink and a grin.

The End

985 Words

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