By Katherine Reynolds
Slate clouds raced low over the town. A raw-boned man trudged
its deserted streets, bent double against the worsening storm.
Ahead, a welcoming yellow light shone out from ornate doors
flung wide. “Museum of Rural Life” a notice read. ‘Admission Free.’
My lucky day!
the man thought, fingering empty pockets.
He plunged into the museum’s quiet warmth, discarded
his sodden coat, and began to look about him. Stuffed birds and animals lined the walls. Locked in cabinets. Frozen in time.
Dominating the room, the sculpture of a farm worker;
foot resting on hay bale, pitchfork in hand. Life-like in bronze and set upon a low plinth. The raw-boned man reached up and
stroked its smooth, dark metal.
work, it is.’ The voice came down to him cracked and rumbling.
‘What’s that you say?’ asked the man, surprised.
‘Hefting bales! Try it why don’t you?’
The raw-boned man took the proffered pitchfork. Its unexpected
coldness sucked the new-found warmth from his body. His fingers whitened.
‘Have it back,’ he gasped. ‘Take it for
He looked up sharply.
The plinth was empty. He turned to see a figure shuffling
awkwardly toward the exit, overcoat slung over one shoulder.
‘That’s my coat,’ the raw-boned man cried
- but no sound came.
Distraught, he scrambled onto the plinth and drove the pitchfork
deep into the bale. Wearied by his efforts, he dropped down beside it. The room faded. His limbs became stiff with chill.
He gazed intently at his aching hands.
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