The warm, caressing sunrise crept over the icy plain, unaware of the frost
hiding in the tall pines deep down inside the gorge. This morning was different;
the flaring sun has strangely altered its meticulous routine. Though unnoticed by
the rabbits eating wearily by their burrows, or by the foxes which caused them
regularly to jump in panic to the depths of their holes, this morning was different.
What was different was not the lone tractor, oddly abandoned by its master and
unable to escape the freezing grasp of night. Nor was it the trickle of water that
was normally a torrent in the dark gorge.
What was strange was the long oblong of smooth silver nestled among the
wheat and basking like a cat in the golden glow. Silently it lay, though a watchful
ear could detect a faint purring from within. It was the purring of a contented,
lazy kitten, resting with its legs gently tucked up underneath it.
The red fox pounces. Confusion. The panicking rabbit, lost too far from
home, aimlessly flees. It darts quickly beneath the strange craft, though it pays no
attention to the foreign intruder above. The fox, far behind, gives up the chase.
Still the ship remains quiet.
The day has dawned.
* * *
A faint knock at the door causes the farmer to stir in her tiny bed. She had
been dreaming that she was alone in the desert, a lone palm tree.
Grateful to have
been freed from the strange and frightening dream she arises, dresses and opens
the door, which groans loudly, like the falling of an old tree that has been sawed
by a beaver. A solitary figure, roughly the farmerís size, stands patiently in the
afternoon sun. The farmer glances over the unknown manís shoulder, noting
casually the silver disc in the field, the reflection off which is blinding.
the ship disappears, and she awakens to see what is inside and what it means to
her. Beckoning him into the small house, she asks no questions. Had she
foreseen the visitation? Of course not, but the dream was so vivid...
as he is presented with a steaming bowl of oatmeal and a spoon. Silence. A fly
stirs at the window, its wings buzzing as they hit against the heated glass in a vain
effort to escape, and the eidetic sound of the old tractorís broken, rhythmless roar
flirts with the farmerís mind.
The palm tree comes back to her now, as alone in the
desert as the foot-weary and thirsty traveller who fell into the water and drank...
An eagle soars over the house, casting its small yet imposing shadow onto the
slanted roof. The eagleís frightening dark follower is as out of place in the hot,
lazy fields as the spacecraft sleeping among the wheat, as the lonely tractor, as the
empty river bed in the gorge at the end of the plain.
* * *
Evening has begun to set when the stranger thanks the woman with a smile
and leaves the again lonely house. Into his dusky ship he climbs, which suddenly
bursts up like the explosion of a volcano.
And is gone, leaving the nighttime
fields as silent as a ruined city, in which the only relic of the great lives once lived
there are the dust-filled buildings, made into monuments by the centuries of
In bitter despair the farmer weeps, though for two-hundred-and-
seventy miles there is no one to hear her.
Copyright 1997. Contact the author by e-mail. Please ask permission to reprint.