The following creative non fiction short story received an award in ENG 344 for best creative nonfiction short story at the University of Auckland in 2015.
I woke up beneath the sound of rain licking the sides of the tent. I wanted to keep dreaming, wrapped in my sleeping bag, but Andrew had already put his glasses on. We rummaged through our musty clothes with flashlights and slipped on our outfits for the day. Brushed hair, fresh socks, deodorant didn’t matter anymore. I walked barefoot across the farm. Keith would chip away at me for not wearing shoes. There was poison ivy every where, but the entire two-and-a-half weeks I worked on their farm in Georgia, I never got it. We loaded the pick up truck with chicken feed and oyster shells and began the day.
After breakfast, Andrew and I were exiled to the rows of potatoes to weed. Keith and Katie were on the other side of the property, probably inside. My soggy jacket lapped onto my skin every time I yanked out a weed. Whenever we were alone, Andrew would tell me secrets. He shared how his brother moved to Orlando, FL, how he never drank because his mom was an alcoholic. He told me the story of how Keith and Katie had sex in the green house on a full moon because they thought it might get her pregnant (Katie had fertility problems). He talked a lot like he couldn’t stop, so I listened. Mud was caked up to my wrists. I was cold and aching for lunch, but I kept working.
I had come to the farm to learn about sustainable farming. I longed to get out of the city of Tampa and back to nature. I had a backpack with some clothes, a shitty tent from Walmart and a secondhand sleeping bag that I bought from Goodwill for $8. I was desperate to learn, to change, and to know myself. In January, I started working as a waitress at a sports bar called The Outpost. My boss would make perverted comments every time I wore yoga pants and all the girls I worked with wore too much make-up, but I made a good amount of money. I planned to travel to Georgia to work on Keith and Katie’s farm for a month in exchange for accommodation and meals, then to another farm in Washington for a month, and, one in Alaska for the last month of summer. It started as a wild idea and transformed into a dream I needed to live inside.