The East Field

Flash Fiction Challenge 100 – Day 41

Photo by Lukasz Szmigiel on Unsplash

The last day of summer vacation is hot. The sticky hot that makes your clothes cling close to your body, adhering to your skin with a thin film of sweat that seems to never dry up. You can hop out of a cold shower, and five minutes later, the thin layer of moisture is back. Such is life in the deep south. I know most folks don’t care for the humidity, but I’ve always preferred the damper, moister air.

The bus just left me off. I will tend to the few chores I have on my parent’s farm, then do my homework.

When I enter our living room, I see my parents sitting on the tiny crooked couch, side-by-side. Their faces appear serious, solemn even. Something is up. I’m hoping mom hasn’t found my baggie of weed. This sure feels like an intervention about to unfold in here. And since it’s just the three of us, I’m guessing I will be the dubious guest of honor.

“Mom, dad. What’s up? Is everything okay?”

“Everything’s fine, Keith,” mom says.

“We just thought, since you’re going to turn 18 next Tuesday, we should talk,” dad says. He looks scared.

“Okay, you guys are seriously freaking me out right now! What’s up?”

Mom and dad trade a look; something invisible passes between them. Permission to reveal a secret is my guess.

“Keith, you know how we told you, you were adopted?” mom says.

I can only nod my head. All the moisture from my mouth has vanished, and I’m feeling nervous and guilty.

Please don’t be the weed!

“Well, that’s not the whole truth, honey. You were adopted; I mean, well, we found you?”

Found me?

She’s making zero sense.

“Mom, that makes little sense! Found me? What do you mean by that? As far as I know, kids aren’t just left on doorsteps anymore. That’s the stuff of fairy tales!”

“But it’s true, Keith,” dad says. “You weren’t left on our doorstep, however.”

Dad nods toward the front door.

“So? Where did you find me?”

“The east field,” mom says. I can see something shift in her eyes. She was hesitant earlier, but now she’s more at ease. Ready to unburden herself of some secret.

East field, the one area my parents always cautioned me about entering. Ever since I can remember, one of my parents would tell me about the cattle that had wandered in the woods and were mutilated. It had always been an effective deterrent for steering me well wide of the densely wooded field that sat on the eastern border of our property.

“We gotta show him, Karen. It’ll save a lot of time convincing him.”

Mom looks sorrowful, but she resigns herself. She stands up but catches herself.

“Before we go into the woods, Keith, I need you to know your father and I love you very much. You were always and will always be our son. But we have to tell you this. Your father’s right; we should go to the field. You’ll see.”

Visions of cow corpses fly unbidden into my mind.

But now, of course, I see that was all a ruse to keep me out of the field.

We enter the east field for the first time that I can recall. After a gentle rise and fall, the woods begin. It is in the center of the half-acre lot of woods that I see the crater for the first time. But somewhere in my mind, I remember seeing it before. Not from this vantage point, but the sky above the trees.

The ground is black. Nothing grows here, you can tell. Like it is cursed.

Dad leads the two of us to the crater’s center.

The craft at the bottom of the crater is half the size of our station wagon. It’s metallic, disc-shaped.

Keith, you simpleton! They’re playing a practical joke on you!

Dad, as if understanding my sudden skepticism, says, “Watch this Keith.”

He sidles down the ten yards to the center of the crater, waves his hands over the ship. Nothing happens.

It is a ship. And how am I remembering it? Is this ‘my ship?

Then he slowly makes his way back up the slope.

“Now you. Walk down there. Just get close to it,” the man I’ve known as a father for seventeen years, eleven months, three weeks tells me.

I do as he says.

When I get to the bottom, the vague memories are getting choppier, more real.

This is no practical joke.

When I reach the craft, my front foot slides against the cold metal exterior.

Then the upper portion of the ship retracts. Inside is a dazzling array of lights, sensors, displays. In the center of all the flashy-looking electronics sits a small round bed, something about the size that would fit a toddler.

It’s true. I was adopted, but not from some earthly agency. My home is very far away from Louisiana.

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