"We got company," Father says, sounding none too pleased.
I slow down just as smooth as I can. Once, a couple of years ago, I pulled up too fast, and the plow skidded on a rock and bounced right into my heel. It hurt so bad I thought it had sliced my foot clean off. There was blood all over the place. It turned out not to be nearly so bad as it looked, but I couldn't do much of any work for maybe half a fortnight after that. Father was about as pissed off as I've ever seen him.
"Looks like two men," he says. "Soldiers, I think. What the hell are soldiers doing all the way out here?"
When I turn and look down the hill, I'm staring right into the sun, and the heat coming up off the field makes everything look wavy and blurry. I see some shapes moving around near the well, but they're too big to be men. Horses, maybe. Those must be the men, over by the barn. I think one of them's pointing up the hill at Father and me.
"How do you know they're soldiers?" I squint, hard, but it doesn't do any good. "I can barely even see them."
"Uniforms," Father says. He sounds disgusted. "Some kind of armor."
Actually, I don't much care who they are. I'm just happy that I'll get to take a breather for a couple of minutes. The harness straps have been cutting into my shoulders real bad all day, even worse than usual. Father gets upset if I complain, so I figured I should just keep my mouth shut and get it over with. But still, I wish he'd be more careful when he cinches me up in the morning.
Don't get me wrong, I know it's not Father's fault, not really. Like everybody else, he gets fooled into thinking I can do anything, because of my size. He doesn't know how deep-down tired I get dragging that dead-heavy cast-iron plow behind me, furrow after furrow after furrow, one rocky hectare after another.
I must have been born for greater things than this. I must have been. Like Mother says, the gods didn't make me this big by accident.
So, when are they going to tell me what they want from me?
[ Selected Writings ]
©1996 Henry Charles Mishkoff