It was a incredibly hot day in Santa Fe California. The farm was quiet. Not one sound was uttered or could be heard. Willie was working out in the fields. Plowing up the land for the fresh crops that we would grow in the summer. Ever since are parents died, Willie works overtime to run the farm to make sure that we can get by. That's how we make are living, by selling are crops to the markets in town. "Howard" he says, "get back to milkin the cows we need to make the cheese before I head to the market". "Okay Willie!" I yell back to him. I guess I must have been dozing off because Gretchen our ten year old cow with a huge black spot right by her Left eye was starting to get impatient because I wasn't milking her. "Sorry ol girl" as I stroked her warm fur. I got back to milking. "Squeeze and pull and the repeat" I would tell myself. I had been milking Gretchen since I was five years old. Of course back then my mother and father were still around.
I remember that day all too well.The day that they died in that accident on a wet, cold, and rainy day about four years ago. Just because some insane drunk driver came and crashed into them, as they were helping an old man with his broken down green rusty old car. I'll never forget that day. The day that I was most angry at the world. If only I could have been there to warn them about a woman driving a green Honda Classic with a chip in the front tail light and a massive crack the length of a yard stick that stretched across the clouded glass on the front of the car. I don't like to talk about my parents that much because it will only depress me. And I have to be especially careful not to mention Ma and Pop in front of Willie when he is in a foul mood from working to long in the field. I learned my lesson the hard way. Because I almost got a beating for bringing up a small memory of all of us eating the leftover crops that the market didn't want. "You better shut up before I give you a beatin that you won't forget Howard! I told you never to mention Ma or Pop around me again! Now get!!" He came very close to hitting me as he swung his arm at me. I quickly scampered away with tears in my eyes with my face burning red hot. I had never seen poor seventeen Willie so enraged and steamed. It was truly Terrifying and a traumatic experience for me.
After I finished milking Gretchen I went to the shed that rests behind the barn so I could go get everything ready for Willies trip into town. I packed him fresh cool water that I fetched early this morning just before the sun had a chance to wake up. I added a rag for him to wipe his face just in case he got sweaty or if he needed to use it to cover his face from the blazing hot fire orange sun. I got the money bag that was made out of the sheep’s wool for Willie to store the money that we will collect after he returns home from his long journey from the market.
I go out into the barn where will has been waiting. "what took ya so long?! I need to get a move on if I am to make it in time." He scolded me. "Forgive me" I said staring at my brown and black color of dirty feet, and looking at the dirt underneath my toenails. "I have no excuse for my tardiness". Next to my surprise Willie then came up to me and hugged me. He smelled very heavy of dirt and sweat, burnt flesh, and all of the animals that we have on the farm. "Don't be sorry Howard. Ever since Ma and Pop died, I have been pushin you way too hard...but there are hard times ahead of us and I am tryin my best to take care of us both....do you understand?" Yes. I understood.
I had seen Willie grow up way too fast. For seventeen year old boy he had to act like a twenty five year old man. Mature and strong. Wise and always thinking about me. Even though I am only fourteen years old, I seem to act like I am a two year old boy who needs to get his dirty diaper changed around Willie. Sometimes I wish that I wasn't such a screw up around him. But whatever I do I can't seem to not cause trouble or be a distraction to my older brother.
This was also the time of year that Willie was to marry his girlfriend Selma. Selma Flynn. But because of our parents deaths, Willie had to spend more time worrying about me and working the farm. Selma got very jealous and told him that he had a choice to make. "It's either that stupid little boy that can take care of himself. Or me. Your girlfriend who loves you very much." She didn't even give me a chance to answer before she left him. Then not even two weeks had passed before Selma had gone and married Mark Roger Angsl. A blacksmith who works in town. That's just another reason why I might not be Willie's favorite person in the world.
I looked back up at Willie who was still staring at me waiting for my answer. "Yes I understand Willie." He smiled his two crooked teeth with a yellow spot on the upper right corner of his right tooth and the little chip mark for when the horse got scared from a gunshot which caused his face to get slammed into the dusty handle of the plow. "Alright I be back soon. I reckon that you should tend to the chickens because they should be layin their eggs right now." He turned to get on our horse Momo who was ready to ride and beginning to overheat. "Okay I’ll get to that....and his time I won't disappoint you Willie." He mounted onto the tall brown horse with the white tail. Checked to make sure that everything was secure. He glances over and we and utters "I know you won't because I believe in you Howard." And with that he rode off into town.
I stood there waving in the heat, my toes feet digging into the ground because the warm dirt felt good against my feet. After he was out of my rage of vision I went to go collect the eggs from the hens. I got our yellow straw basket that are mother made just to collect to brow large warm eggs from the chickens. The basket was well made. No holes for the eggs to slip out and have golden liquid of the unborn chick to hit the ground and splatter. I walked around from all the holes that the hens sleep in, and grabed all of the eggs. The basket was overflowing with eggs. "Willie is gonna be so proud of me!" I thought. I brought the eggs inside to our little black shack where I set the eggs down on the old wooden table that our Pop built. It the table shook a little because it wasn't well made and it was an red an ugly red color, that was fading and chipping.
I started to put the eggs into another bowl when Willie came in causing me to drop all the freshly warm eggs on the ground. I looked down at the eggs. The yolk was silky on my foot. “I’m so sorry. It’s just that you scared me and...” He cut me off. “I sold the farm.” He spoke so fast and so low that I could barely hear him. “What?” I said in disbelief. “You..you sold our farm?” i could already feel the salty tears coming to my eyes. “I had to. The mayor wouldn’t give me a choice. Says this land was supposed to be his years ago.” In my own shock I said nothing. Absolutely nothing. When I finally was able to push the annoying feeling that I had to cry down I glanced up at Wilie. I had never once in my life seen him look like that. So shocked. Grieved. Pained. These last few years had been hard for us. And now this happens. We lost our parents. And now our farm. I finally mustered up to the courage to say to him, “You’re right. These really are hard times ahead.” And we just stood there peering into eachothers eyes, in silence.