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Creative writing prompt: Isolated field

"You are walking in an isolated field, and stumble upon a small flag..."


I just needed air. We’d fought over this so many times, it had become part of our daily routine. Morning coffee, argue about Dad. Rinse, repeat. (Sometimes when I seldom treated myself it was morning latte, but still– coffee and argue about Dad.) I took my deep cleansing breaths I’d read about in the Caregivers journal, and cursed Mom’s stubbornness. They at least canceled each other out. I walked further into our dry crop. I usually avoided the fields, as they were Dad’s pride and joy and walking through them only reminded me further of his decline. But today I needed to feel close to him. I needed to remember the man he was- capable, strong, loving. He’d worked these fields for the last 25 years. Mom and he had left the city, quit their office jobs, bought the land and vowed to live off their own hard honest work til they both keeled over, old, wrung out, and leathery. Well, the wrung out and leathery part held true. But they were too young to be forced off the land. Too young, at least, to be this sick. The ground crunched under my step. The last three years had dwindled our output to sticks and dried leaves, both from the drought and the fact that Mom and I couldn’t tend the crops and take care of a dementia patient with aggressive tendencies at the same time.


My toes caught a small flag in my step. I looked down at the sad, little dried up red flag. This wasn’t the normal crop flag, I could tell by its shape and darker red than normal. I squatted and wiped off some dirt. My fingers froze at the sight of the yellow seal. Manchester United. Dad’s favorite team. An onslaught of memories overpowered me - watching games on our couch, him letting me have my first sips of beer, buying matching jerseys, dreaming of trips to the UK. When I remembered to breathe it came in a sob. I ripped into the ground. The earth that Dad had sacrificed everything for, the land that the whole family had tended, this held my Dad’s soul, not that declining body in our living room.


At the end of the line tied to the flag was a metal box. I knew that box. I thought I’d lost it, it was my angsty high schooler ‘secrets’ box. Damn it, Dad, you are good. He’d teased me incessantly that the box was so full of shame from my secrets it had decided to up and run away before I could add any more grievance. And here it was. Me at my most grieved, and it returns. I took a breath and opened it. Inside were three letters, one to me, one to my brother, and one to Mom. They were addressed to us in Dad’s writing. Not his confident, sloppy writing when he was healthy, but the careful, metered writing during the beginning stages of his disease. I carefully maneuvered past each envelope as if it were the shroud of Turin. Underneath were three laminated rookie cards. Pelé, Messi, and Rinaldo. I stopped. Dad, you weren’t kidding after all. His incessant teasing also included that absurd idea he had hidden away three of the most valuable rookie cards in soccer history. Stuffed away in some drawer. We never believed him, but happily played along at the idea of becoming almost millionaires. And here they were in my old box. Two inconceivable truths, as plain as the stickered metal container they were in. These infamous cards did exist, and Dad, our infallible hero, was not coming back. No amount of arguing would bring him back to the compassionate, gentle man he was. But we had our memories. We still had the land, and we could keep it now with the contents of this box.


I closed the lid and got up. Holding the box close to my chest, I walked home with the hidden bounty: a worn Manchester United flag, three soccer rookie cards, and three precious, invaluable treasures in my Father’s handwriting.



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