The bug moved slowly across the dirt pushing and guiding the perfect ball he had created of manure gathered from the cowshed. Polly watched curiously while lying on her stomach on the splintered porch of the old farm house. Wisps of golden hair flew around her oval face and her brown eyes watched intently as the bug traveled over the uneven ground, his spindly legs working continuously. What was he going to do with it she wondered, where was he going? He will never get there she thought.
Losing interest she rolled over on her back and looked past the cover of the porch to the white billowing clouds gathering on the horizon. They were in constant motion, building and ebbing, rising here and falling there, going nowhere. It was the same with her she thought, going nowhere.
Polly was fifteen years old. School was out. It was summer vacation. Most everyone she knew was gone out of town on a trip and here she was stuck here on the farm with nothing to do for three months. What a bummer for a teenager.
The old farm house, void of paint, was a weathered gray standing just off the old county road. Few cars traveled the road any more as the paved highway north of the wheat field had been completed some months back. A few travelers still came that way when they got lost or missed the turn in the road.
The county road grader crew still stopped to get a drink from the well and if her Dad was around they would sit in the shade of the big elm by the well and visit a spell. Some of them would lay in the shade and take a nap. Her Dad said those county jobs were “gravy” what ever that meant.
She heard them coming down the road, moving slow, stirring up the dirt as they came. This day there was a pickup truck following them. They pulled up in the yard and piled down off the grader and out of the truck and came across the yard.
“Mornin’ Missy.” The man from the truck spoke,”Mind if we get a drink of that good water ya’ll have here?”
Polly sat up and looked them over. They had someone new with them this morning. A young boy. He was tall, at least a head taller than herself. He had black hair and the bluest eyes she had ever looked into. The dirt on his face did nothing to distract from his good looks. She shook her head not saying anything as they continued on to the barrel of water. The boy hesitated. They looked each other over good. Polly felt herself blush and looked away.
They took down the tin cup that hung on a nail and was for the use of anyone who came by, skimmed the dirt off the water in the barrel and each one drank their fill. Sam, the one who drove the grader took his hat off and poured a dipper of water over his head, cooling down. It was hot and dirty work. Polly was watching.
The man who had spoken earlier smiled, took off his hat, and looking at Polly said,
” This here’s my nephew, Chip, gonna be helping Sam out this summer on the roads. Learning the trade. He will be stopping by from time to time.” Wiping the sweat from his forehead he put his hat back on. “Thanks for the drink, Missy.” and started for the truck.
“My names Polly.” she said, looking at the boy. He nodded and followed his uncle. Sam wiped his face with a big red bandana and smiled at Polly.
“See ya next time, Polly.”
Polly watched them, never moving from her spot on the porch. The boy looked back as they drove away and raised his hand in a wave unseen by the others.
Polly leaned back on the porch and looking up at the clouds smiled. Maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad summer after all. Remembering the bug Polly sat up and looked to see how far he had traveled. He was almost to the fence. He had gone at least five ft. He might get there after all, where ever that was.
© Bodrury 2007
Bo Drury, born in the Texas Panhandle during ‘the great depression’, had the advantages of growing up in the country and developing a great love and respect for nature and the plains. Listening to the tall tales of her father and hearing the stories of many of her ancestors as they braved the hardships of the new land and were themselves instrumental in taming the Wild West, from her 5th great-grandfather, Daniel Boone, to her paternal grandparents making ‘the run’ for land into the Indian Territory, she has story after story to tell. With a ranching heritage on one side and a newspaper family on the other, her desire to write started at the age of eleven after reading the story of “Betty Zane” written by Zane Gray. To date she has written several short stories of the west and of the folks who lived during those times.