Since my writing is done for today, I am going to take today’s prompt literally and let the child speak. I started to rewrite this story in my present voice but as I looked at it, the jaded adult could not get out of the way of my writing. Solution? Let my 17-year-old self who dreamed of writing someday finally be published. There are no edits here. These are the words of my then-self. I will let her speak. When I look inside at her face I see tears of joy and hope in her eyes at this chance that is more than she had even dared dream. Here is my voice of innocence.
September 25, 1974
All those yellow bales speckling the field would be stored in his oversized shed which served as a barn. Age and weather had faded the walls of the shed to a lifeless grey which contrasted strikingly to the tall cedar that stood guard on one side. On the other side was a make-shift roof under which the cows were fed, and on that same side was the door.
Since the door was under the roofed area it was quite a chore to get to it. You see, eating wasn’t the only thing the cows did there. I think that was what accounted for our careful steps and the unwelcoming odour that filled the air.
But once inside the smell decreased only to be replaced by the musty smell of last year’s hay. Dust clung to our hair and clothes as grandpa picked his way across the room to open the sliding panel so the hay could be passed in. Grandpa slid back the wooden bar slowly. When the panel was opened, it seemed like every ray of light could be seen as they danced around in the clouds of dust that enveloped the room.
By the time the truck had arrived the dust had settled enough to make talking possible. Grandpa and the other men laughed and talked as bale after bale of the fresh sweet-smelling hay was passed inside. The stacks of bales weren’t always started right against the back wall of the shed because sometimes Grandpa would decide that there would be a good place for a room in our fort. He’d pace out an area big enough for two or three children to sit cross-legged and then would begin the piles on the edges of the area. Bales were stacked three high with a passageway left clear for a tunnel. Then he placed some heavy boards for a ceiling and finished piling hay on top of that.
Stacking the hay was never rushed. The placement of each “office”, “bedroom” and “living room” had to be carefully considered. In one fort we stacked the bales two high and one deep against the two adjoining walls in one corner than closed in a third wall. Then we found the sturdiest boards Grandpa had and with them formed the floor for a second story room. More bales were stacked as walls for that room and the whole structure was topped with a plywood roof strewn with hay. Of course we left an opening for escape to our tunnel below.
The tunnel was the finishing touch in each fort. Bales were crossed and criss-crossed in numerous ways leaving a dark narrow passage filled with twists and turns and bugs. Travelling it was hard because of the little seeds from the hay that hadn’t yet settled but we didn’t care! In fantasy the most the seeds could be were the dust of ancient fortresses or flies we must conquer or shattered fragments of bullets. Our games were always romantic adventures ending with a rescue by a daring knight or courageous soldier.
Our “knight” or “soldier” was grandpa who called us out for dinnertime. By then we were itching all over from the sharp ends of dried grass protruding from the bales and were glad to leave our fort on promise of a nice warm shower and a hot meal.