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This is my entry for Sonia’s latest writing challenge. The summer competition gave us the goal of writing a short story (500 words or less) based on a photo. Here’s “Corn.”

 

Green is everywhere. It’s the first thing I see when I wake up. There’s been rain recently, and I can feel the moisture in the soil, smell it all around me. Rain’s scent lingers in the gentle breeze. The thunder’s rumble in the distance matches the one in my stomach, and I realize how far the storm has gone and how long ago my last meal was.

Corn. That’s the other overwhelming smell. Damp corn leaves. The corn is tasseled, but the ears on the stalks are still immature, still some time away from being ready for harvest. Good. I don’t have to worry about some poor farmer coming across me when I’m in this state. It’s unlikely that anyone will be coming through the rows this time of year, though. The stalks are far too tall for any wheeled vehicle to come through without crushing them, at least aside from a combine, and again, the maturity of the ears has already eliminated this possibility. I’m not certain where I am. The sun is still all but invisible behind the heavy clouds, but its position tells me that it is early evening. The worst of the storm must be moving on to the east of me, carrying with it more than any farmer would ever want. A heavy green tint to the rear of the storm system hints at the hail that lurks within. I turn my eyes toward more immediate dangers.

My backpack, or more accurately a backpack with my name on it, is on the ground, a row to my right. Examining it for any signs of tampering, I find none. It seems to be fine, so I open it. Inside, I find a flashlight, a jacket, a pocket knife, and a plastic bag with a piece of paper in it. The paper is folded four times and is written upon in black ink. The simple script reads “You have until sunrise tomorrow. You know what you have to do.”

I shrug and nod, fairly certain now that my every move is being watched, despite the apparent solitude.

Without further thought, I shoulder the backpack and stride into the green, vanishing between the rows. I leave boot prints in the damp earth behind me, following the setting sun.

I hope that I can make it.

8 Comments

  1. This piece would be stronger if you didn’t include the second half, and instead allowed the character to stay with his reflections. They’re more interesting. Sometimes the mundane is better than the sensational. Every writer confuses that, even me.

    • You raise an excellent point, Tony. I’m already considering revisions to the piece so that I can expand it into a stronger standalone story. Thank you!

      • Excellent. The general arc is fine, but the stark transition is not as effective as it might have seemed when you first wrote it.

        • It was up for debate even as I was writing it, but I wanted to finish up. It was originally going to be about a hundred words longer as well, but I just couldn’t work out the ending the way I’d wanted.

  2. I rather enjoyed this! Now I want to know what happens next 🙂

  3. Oooh! Corn kind of creeps me out, so that definitely adds to the feel of the story for me. Love the image too.

    • I always loved and feared the way someone could just disappear into a field of corn. It’s an image from my childhood that has always stuck with me. Thank you very much!


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