Coming Home

Leaving behind the bohemian life and coming home to Kansas.


| March 2014



Rural Night

It was dark enough that you couldn’t make out the dogs’ bodies, only two fairy lights speeding back and forth across the lower yard as they silently and frantically enjoyed their new freedom.

Photo by Fotolia/Igor Kovalchuk

The Hard Fifty Farm is a zine by Jessie Duke (Pioneers Press, 2013) featuring tales of a tangled-up, thorny walk through contemporary back-to-the-land rural farm life. The beautifully-written stories in this issue, What Becomes of the Broken Hearted, are of love and failure and dreams crashed. We see the characters looking for better, smarter lives in the country, having a rough go of it but the desire to rise to the occasion. The following excerpt is from Farm Lesson #1, the tale of a young woman coming home to rural Kansas.

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“You need to quit the bohemian bullshit and get your ass back to Kansas,” her father had yelled into the phone.  “If you go back to California, that’s it. Do you hear me? That IS IT.”

She considered this now, from a bed on the floor of her father’s finished basement. After the first night they’d moved the mattress from the old pull-out couch to the floor because it felt like sleeping on a mouse trap.

She remembered the first time she and her sister slept on that bed, their last Georgia summer. She was 11 and Sadie was 8 and they’d stayed up watching a marathon of “Green Acres” and that show with the talking horse. The air conditioner was no match for the heavy-wet southern heat, and they’d sat scraping the ice from frozen Capri Suns with long, thin-handled tea spoons, sitting cross-legged, side by side in the dark, staring into the TV glow. It had felt like a real big deal getting that pull-out. Like they were moving up in the world. They guessed their dad was probably getting rich and when they were rich maybe they’d move to a farm, just like on the show. Just like on the show, but with cuter husbands, they’d decided.

Their dad had gotten the couch in the divorce later that year, and for a long time it was the symbol of The Great Injustice that had been done to them and their mother.