Harvesters

When May came, tiny fissures cleaving the steel gray sky, Ty packed the duffel his father had left him long ago and drove west. Every year was the same. The harvest began in Texas, and there he joined the others, running the combines day and night in staggered lines that left wide swaths in the open fields like fingers through sand. By June they had passed through Oklahoma and on into Kansas, where the world seemed flatter still and the wheat moved atop the earth like the shimmer of heat over a fire. Across into Colorado and back through Nebraska following the grain, they slept and ate in trailers too small for comfort and worked till the great sky bruised at its edges, pinks and reds and violets Ty had seen nowhere else. They spoke of little besides the harvest and knew each other by their jobs. They traded day wages for rolls of quarters and washed their clothes in empty Laundromats. If they drank they did so quickly and with purpose, filling the corner booths of taverns, where they were nameless.

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