Uncle Jay grabbed my arm and helped me into the beat up Chevy, its faded red identical to the rusty dirt that covered my hands. My fingers were nearly numb, tired from hours of carrying bales of coarse, golden hay.

I had calluses now. Work hands. Dad’s hands. The truck rattled as Uncle Jay picked up the speed, the dirt road coating the Chevy with an entirely new color. More of a brown.

I made sure not to lean on the door. Sometimes, it opened. I looked out the window, watching the road traveling beneath us; now would be a bad time to fall.

The setting sun nearly blinded me. I had to shield my eyes with my hands. Uncle Jay did not. He didn’t need to. He sat there, unmoving, his thick forearms almost resting on the steering wheel, tanned from years of work, and decorated with scars that he won’t talk about. He hummed some tune that I didn’t recognize. It’s funny how you can be surrounded by noise but sit in complete silence.

It was dark when we got back to the farm. My eyes half closed, I helped Uncle Jay carry the tools to the shed, making sure not to drag anything on the ground. I didn’t want to anger him again. He noticed my caution and smirked, giving me a close-mouthed half-grin. He never showed his teeth when he smiled.

Rocks had cut my bare feet, but I attempted to hide my grimaces as I walked to the shed. I refused to show weakness. Hollingsworth men are not weak.

Jay had already packed up his half of the load before I even got there. He waited for me, leaning back slightly on the side of the battered shed, watching me as I tried to remember where things went.

The grass was a relief to my bleeding feet. It was a short but steep walk up the hill to the house.

By Bryce, 12th grade
[photo by qrtr2four via flickr]

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