The Wind in the Crops

“Is iad na biotáille a
Comin ” bhabhta ar ‘ Tá mé do
Chun iad a fheiceáil sa choill”

I’m not used to this kind of poverty. My mum and my dad have always had more than enough to last. We live in a pretty large house and our crops have usually done well, but our potatoes aren’t as plentiful this year. I’ve heard nobody’s are. In fact, most of the other people have all dead ones! My friends have never had as much as us, and lately they’ve even been leaving for other lands. But I guess there are still enough people at school to keep it going, so I run to school like always.

“How old are you, little one?” My new teacher asks. My old one left for Ameri-cay-ay. “I’m seven ma’am and countin’ sure as shootin’.”

She says: “All right. Your lesson is to keep on counting those numbers I taught you.” By the end of the day, I’ve finished my lessons.

Just like usual I skip off to my own special fairie circle. My parents had been going to these woods for years and they’d never found it until the year I was born, so they said it was mine and nobody but me ever sees it. It’s just the right size. I always grab a bundle of flowers when I’m goin’ there, and today I gather an extra-large one. The flowers today are yellow and green and red. I feel like bright ones because my head is full of bright thoughts. I sing the same song that I always do when I’m skipping over there, collecting flowers, and placing the flowers on the mossy, cool pillars in my circle. I love being here because it’s in a clear patch with no trees, and even if it’s hot, it’s always musky, misty and fresh. I can feel magic here, and I’m always cooled and nourished by the breeze that it seems to have both on the windiest and on the stillest of days.

“The spirits are a
Comin’ ‘round an’ I am for
To see them in the woods”

I have two best friends, the land and the sprites. There’s been a question burning in my mind. I sit down and I ask:

“Why are my two friends fightin’? Why are you hurtin’ the land? Why do you want all of us to leave?” because the spirits are the only thing I can think of strong enough to cause the land to die.

There is only silence. The wind seems to drain out. I can feel my hopes drown with it. It feels so very quiet, even though I can clearly hear a rustling bush that a rabbit has just darted through. I trudge back home slower than usual. Now I know why so many people are leaving. It’s upsetting.

The next few days are kinda… long. Each morning, people leave for other places. We don’t go. We’ve got enough to manage. But I don’t like it. I’m not used to it and I’m not gonna be. Eventually, everyone leaves, even the new teacher. The school is shut down so now I have nothing to do. I decide to try one last time to get some peace in my circle, before I give it up, because the magic is gone. I hardly pick any flowers. I don’t sing my song. I walk to the forest with slumped shoulders, a dragging step and silently put the wilting blossoms down. I have nothing left to say to my friends. I stand there just a moment. The soothing breeze is gone, so I trudge right back home, wondering.

The spirits wouldn’t do this to me. Why’d they do it? There’s no reason. I’m sure! The parents and adults call it a… famine? I guess that’s when there’s not enough left. But I… just… don’t… understand what it could be if it’s not the spirits. Anyways…

When I walk into my home, I make no noise. I silently collapse on the stairs, wracking my brain for something else that could be causing it. My parents are talking in the other room. About the crops, the ‘taters, selling the house, about the school closing down, food and such, and leavin’ Ireland. I’ve heard all this before. But then they say something I haven’t heard before. “Blight.” I rush into the room as fast as I can.

“What’s ‘blight’, Mummy? What’s ‘blight’, Daddy?”

“Ah, my little girl! A blight’s what’s goin’ on! It’s a disease that the potatoes got! That’s why they’re dyin’.”

“THEN IT’S NOT MY SPRITES? THEY’RE NOT ANGRY AT ME, MUMMY?”

She giggles and pulls me in to her warm breath, “Of course not. How could they be?”

I wrap my arms around her, and then yank away just as fast while bolting to my circle, yelling the song as loud as I ever have, only stopping to snatch a HUGE, overflowing armful of flowers. I stand in my circle and toss ‘em and yell into the sky as flowers fall about me in a rain.

“THANK YOU SPIRITS! THANK YOU MA! THANK YOU FATHER! THANK YOU LAND! THANK YOU WEE FOLK!”

And just like that, wind rushes through the circle in a magical way and through my very own little body as my gay red hair tosses in it and I’m blinded by my own curls as they whip in my eyes. And the raining flowers are joined by real rain and I don’t care! And I’m cryin’ and I’m laughin’ and I’m doin’ it for the spirits, thanking them over and over again in my little Stonehenge. I’ve always felt that way because I think that Stonehenge is to mark something, but not something we did. Something magical. And it may as well mark this day, for everything is alright as long as the spirits love me and my land.

Fin

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Gail
    Jun 11, 2015 @ 10:18:30

    What an amazing story! I would love to hear the author read The Wind in the Crops! I bet that would lend to a completely different and enjoyable experience!

    Reply

  2. Skip
    Jun 12, 2015 @ 14:48:14

    You do so much in a few words! Well planned, economical, with appropriate local color. A remarkable job. No wonder you placed first. And I’ll bet the judges weren’t prepared for your bonus–reading in the right voice.

    Reply

  3. Rhoda Kaufman
    Jun 17, 2015 @ 16:06:16

    Sophie- I’d like to have a Salon here at my house and invite family and friends to hear you read your beautifully written story. Would you be willing to do that? Maybe when Gail is here? I would invite Karen and Rachel and Brian and Gert and Vivian. Maybe Paul and Libby? Who would you like to invite?
    I’d make fresh strawberry ice cream and have cookies as well. Maybe Port for the grown ups.
    How does that sound?

    Reply

  4. Pilar
    Jun 17, 2015 @ 16:31:41

    Sophie -This is amazing, it is very obvious that all the work and time you’ve spent reading/studying Literature and Language is now shining. Beautifully done. Thank you for sharing….My best – Pilar (a friend of your Aunt Gail).

    Reply

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