Nebraska in October. Autumn winds are the collective breath of a thousand withering corn fields. I think of home, I think of my older sister, her brown lossless eyes, her hair, the color of dried cornstalks, straight as a carpenter’s level. I’m ten and she’s sending me to go find her fingers, sliced straight off by the mower blade of the smallest of our John Deere tractors. She’s walking toward our farmhouse at her usual everyday pace, like she’s going out for ice cream or to get the mail. I need ice, she says. Go find my fingers. Hurry, she says. I run to the tractor. I look. I look everywhere. I get down on my hands and knees. The grass is thick and bloody. My hands and forearms are bloody too. I climb on the tractor, try to start it, try to move it, but I don’t know how. I want to scream, I want to disappear, but mostly I just want to cry. She’s my sister. My only sister. She holds her hand out to me. It’s ok. We have to go now, she says. And all these years later, when I visit the old farm, I still hunt for Beth’s fingers, along the edge of the field, left out there somewhere, alone, like a shriveled pair of cornstalks missed in the harvest.
Todd Clay Stuart is an emerging Midwestern writer. He studied creative writing at the University of Iowa. Recent work of his appears in New World Writing and Flash Fiction Magazine. He lives with his wife, daughter, and two loyal but increasingly untrustworthy pets. Find him on Twitter @toddclaystuart and at http://toddclaystuart.com.