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Someone in the family had decided it was time to take down the dilapidated fence. The family gathered together at my old farmhouse. No one had thought to ask me ’bout the fence. My mind had been slipping for a long time now; they called it Dementia. I was agitated or excited. They were the same. My daughters and granddaughters hung back with me makin’ lunch for the men. I stood lookin’ out the window in the direction of the fence, it was out of sight, but the memory was not.

Fore I came to the fence, I stood o’er there under the tree on the lip of a skirt o’ shade. My shoulders and arms stretched upward with heavy wet laundry. The basket had lightened, and I had an ache in my neck. I paused with my back arched, my fists pressed into my lower back, Under heavy thoughts, I did not hear him comin’. I did not hear the soft crush of his worn work boots flattenin’ falls on sprigs of green.

He came from the neighbor’s farm. A young man now, I was still a girl. He had left our childhood behind. Huffin’ and push’n, he strode an eclipse over the sunlight where I sat on a seed plucked earth. He jerked me to my feet with a hold of my arm and waist as an announcement of his arrival. I was stretched out like some prize-winning catfish. There was a rumple of hot cotton between us. He pressed-on to the fence over the ridge, out of sight. He danced me from behind. His front pressed into my back.

I look’d up into dappled sunlight through summer boughs. My throat was raw with thirst unquenched; any screams choked to dust. I look’d down my scuffed, brown Mary Janes kicked up dirt clouds. The wind turned the leaves, unreachable now, the clothesline swayed and bounced in the wind its own private dance in the backyard. It mimicked our awkward, disjointed bucking.

He fisted the shoulders of my house dress; my braids swung heavy, keeping time with his animal thrusts. He labor’d to breathe in this dry heat, under an unforgiving Sun. That was how I came to the fence.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Leah Holbrook Sackett is an adjunct lecturer in the English department at the University of Missouri – St. Louis.  This is also where she earned her M.F.A. Her short stories explore journeys toward autonomy and the boundaries placed on the individual by society, family, and self. She has published short stories in several journals including Connotation Press, Blacktop Passages, Halfway Down the Stairs, The Writing Disorder, Crack the Spine, and more. Learn about her published fiction at LeahHolbrookSackett.website

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