Haying Season 

The system to the north was taunting me, offering me the better part of a day to fret over its arrival.

Page 6 of 10

"It is my fault. I mess up everything." Ella began to cry.

"That’s not true. Look how many bales you lifted. It’s just too much to do all by ourselves. I guess I should have called your father."

"I’m not talking about Dad. I’m talking about everything else."

"Oh. I didn’t know." I pulled off my work gloves and set them on the tailgate.

Ella removed her gloves as well and set them down tidily, one on top of the other, the same way I had done. She kicked the ground lightly with the toe of her boot. "I nearly starved to death because I forgot my lunch. That was Monday. Then I got yelled at in dance because my glissades were choppy. Jenny said my hair is greasy. I have fourteen zits. Three of them are big. I have a hole in my lip from my braces and now I can’t even close my mouth. And yeah, Sherrie told Kristy something about me that was so bad she couldn’t even tell me what it was. Then yesterday I got a nosebleed that went all over my top and I had to wear my stinky gym suit for the whole day."

"Sounds like you had a rough week."

"Yeah. It sucked."

"Is there anything else?"

Ella looked at me, with pools in her eyes. "I got a B on my math quiz."

She looked so fragile, slumped against the side of the truck. I looped my arms around her and squeezed and I felt her shoulder bones poking into my arms.

"Forget the hay," I said. "We’re finished." I wrapped my fingers around a cord of baling twine and hauled a bale off the truck.

"If you push I could try driving," said Ella.

"I’m not strong enough."

Ella picked up her gloves and climbed into the cab. She turned on the engine. I pressed my palms against the back corner of the truck.

"Give it some gas," I said, "then let it roll back!"

Ella found a rhythm, rolled the truck back and forth, and when the wheels reached the lip of the craters I shoved with all I had. The wheels gouged deeper into the mud and it spewed into the air and spattered up my jeans. The truck shifted forward onto solid ground. I ran after it and jumped into the passenger side of the cab.

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