It was a sweltering day in July when the screams came. First from my father as his sleeve caught in the chute of the hay baler, then from my seven-year-old brother who my father sent to get help as first his fingers, then his arm, then his body was pulled into the maw of the machine. The old baler sat outside the dairy barn, a long run to the house for a small boy.
My mother was preparing lunch to take up to him. White bread with baloney, nothing fancy, mayonnaise slathering the side, oozing out along the edges. She worried about his working in this heat so soon after the flu.
I crawled along the floor getting into cupboards and banging pans together, my baby butt scooting along the just mopped floor. The noise outside, the initial chaos, was muted by the fan’s spinning and chunking along. The screen doors were shut to keep the bugs out. Fly paper, yellow fly paper hung over the sink with trapped bugs stuck on it dying as he was.
My grandparents were there also, screaming and praying to God for their youngest son, now lost to them forever, entwined within the machine.
My mother sank into a heap. fainting. They carried her into the front parlor, dialed up the doctor, called the brothers, called the undertaker.
The small boy was overlooked—amongst the chaos of the blood and the mourning, the praying and the weeping. Lost in pastures that went on forever, guilty and bereft. Only later that day did the men look around for him and found him wandering still amongst the round-bellied brood mares and Charolais cattle. Looking for another path, a different ending on this summer’s day.
By Gwen Dandridge
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