@ – A R T I F A C T

Open Field

Open Field

A Fictional Manifestation

Based On

“Christina’s World” by Andrew Wyeth


“God blast this heat! We need a miracle!” said Joshua with labored frustration. “Why’d we have to move out here? We live a dozen miles from a blink of life.”

“Joshua, I told you. This is our piece of the good life. It’s ours, now come on!” Gabi said this to her son Joshua as she pushed a small wheelbarrow with her daughter Mary around a strawberry patch in front of the house. Originally from the city, they moved to Dersit, Hyland a few months ago. Joshua was the oldest, seventeen, and Mary and Henry were twins of five. Henry was diagnosed with a cancer of the brain when he was just three; they couldn’t support the costs of surgery, and the doctors didn’t give him long for this world.

Despite the heartache with Henry, Gabi has lived her life to the fullest yet, and now uses the open field to her advantage, trying to grow a living with her family. There were twenty acres of open prairie in every direction.

When living in the city, Gabi worked in a cotton factory. She made money bundling cotton, but never had to spend any of it because her husband always provided. That all changed when she got pregnant with the twins; conceived by another man, an African jazz musician she met in a speakeasy. Joshua was twelve at the time, and her husband did not suspect a thing. When Gabi had the twins however, her husband, realizing they were not his own, left her and the family high and dry, ashamed and heartbroken by her infidelity.

“Take the house. You’ll need it to raise those bastard kids of yours.” And he was gone.

Gabi’s best friend and coworker at the time was a woman named Meagan, and the two of them spent the next five years raising the kids together in the city. They worked it out so one of them would always be home and another would be working. Joshua became the man of the house, went to school, became an apprentice, and things were very good for all of them. Unfortunately, right before Henry and Mary’s fifth birthday, Meagan passed away from Brown-lungs disease.

“If I were you, I’d get off the line and get your money into something more sensible, like land.” That was a piece of the last conversation Gabi and Meagan shared, discussing the dream of buying land out in nature’s valley, living a wholesome existence with the family. They meant to share it together, Meagan and Gabi, along with the kids. The thought (much like Meagan’s death) took her by surprise, and yet it all made perfect sense.

After Meagan died, Gabi sold everything she had in the city, including the house, and bought a modest stretch of land in Dersit, Hyland.

“Now Joshua, I’m gonna’ go out and check on the outer field. Please keep an eye on your brother and sister.” Gabi said as she began walking through the strawberry patch towards the prairie lands.

“What are you gonna’ do out there?” Joshua replied.

“I’m gonna’ see if the soil’s ready. I won’t be gone long.” She walked through the open field, and disappeared in the prairie.

“Joshi, my head hurts.” Henry is groaning from inside the house.

“Well I can put an ice block on your head, or you can take a drink outside, what’ya think?” Joshua replied.

“I already did that… it still hurts!” Henry cries.

“Get some fresh air, bud, you’ll feel better.”

“Okee, Joshi.” Henry goes outside, stumbling while walking. “Ow, it hurts!” Henry wails, “I want mommy. Where’s mommy?”

Joshua couldn’t hear Henry’s cries; the sound of the wind enveloped his fragile words. He leaned on the ladder that rested alongside the house, looking up at the big blue sky. He mindlessly started climbing up the ladder, slinging his weight left and right as he reached for each rung. From the top of the roof, Henry could see Gabi walking away towards the barren fields on the horizon. It was at that moment a rush of blood filled his head, blinding his eyes and numbing his body. He fell unknowingly off the side of the farmhouse and hit the ground with an awkward thud.

Mary screamed a moment later, and Joshua ran outside to find his brother motionless on the ground. With whimpers unheard of by anyone before, Joshua carefully tried to revive him.  From the roof of the farm, you could still see Gabi; her head turned, listening to the noise, curious of the odd new feeling in the air. She ran back to them in a state of anxiety but stopped in the open field, just beyond the little strawberry patch. She fell to the ground; her legs went limp as a piece of her “good life” vanished forever.

Written by Zucker

April 15, 2010 at 7:03 PM

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