What Ma would not see.
A short fiction.
He used to hide from me in the loft, and as soon as I would discover him there, he would holler, because I had won another impromptu game of hide and seek. He was eight. I remember eight years later when he was helping me birth a baby calf under these very beams. After I realized the babe was not coming out of its mamma head-first like it was supposed to, I started to panic. This had never happened at our farm before, but I remember how Frankie was there to help me all the way through it. He did the dirty work of pulling out the calf as I kept the mother calm. Not a week later, the visiting veterinarian told me that such a birth was a miracle. In normal circumstances, calves positioned backward usually could not be born. After the vet left, Frankie smugly told me that he planned on becoming a veterinarian so he could help animals in need like he had helped our cow.
Three years later and this barn is only full of fond memories. My heart aches, and my hands continuously throb from what my doctor says is the onset of early arthritis from taking care of the farm by myself. My days blend together as the monotony that comes with being alone on a 231-acre farm grows with time. My father-in-law passed it on to my husband, and it was left to me when he died over eight years ago from melanoma when my Frankie was just eleven years old and cuter than ever. After James passed, Frankie helped me with everything when it came to the farm. He was always there when I needed him.
Frankie was called away at an unfortunate time. Over the years, his dream of helping animals grew to a want and desire to help our hurting nation. Our little black and white Philco television only picked up a few stations, but President Roosevelt and more and more news of the never-ending onslaught and bloodshed was constantly streaming throughout our household. Frankie felt up in arms about it all, and as his new desire to fight grew, his love of home died away.
At the entrance of our barn, Frankie hung up the biggest American flag I had ever laid eyes on. What was once a deep blue with bright red and white stripes and stars was now a faded flag with edges worn with time. I can still picture him hanging it, his constantly asking me if it looked straight when I stood outside the house. That flag will stay there as long as I am here on this earth, even if I am removed from this land. Looking at that flag reminds me of him every time, but it also causes me to have quite intense dreams when I sleep at night. I had a dream just the other night that Frankie had come back home. I was gardening and heard the rustle of leaves as the wind blew them, but I also heard a car with the loudest of motors coming up the drive. The dust from our driveway blew up all around it, dust particles settling back to the ground. There was my Frankie, my boy had come back home, and in my dream I both knew he was coming, and was completely surprised at the same time.
“Ma, why did I ever leave you?” he asked.
“Frankie,” I said “I have dinner in the oven. Your favorite: chicken pot pie.”
Only there was no chicken pot pie, no settling dust, no garden. I awoke the next day, mad at my mind for playing such tricks. No matter how much we will it, not everything can go the way we wish. This is one thing my time away from my boy has taught me.
About the Author: I am a Public History and English student with loves in rock climbing, photography, the Nationals, Scooby-Doo, and the Killers. For more, follow me on Instagram here.