Muddy Boots by Michael J. Solender

Always the left boot first. Ever since he was a kid.

Standing or sitting it didn’t matter. He didn’t know why, he didn’t think of himself as one bound by ritual, yet routine dominated all aspects of his life.

Thick, red mud fell in truncated furrows as he alternatively strengthened and relaxed his grip over the roughened steel toe. Perfectly rounded, the clay shards looked as if they were formed by a potter. Compact and resolute, they swept up easily onto the porch where they could bake in the remains of the retreating sun, soon to rise on uncounted Chinese who gave him as much thought as he gave them.

Three hundred thousand dollars seemed like a lot of money. He didn’t like to think in those terms. Money wouldn’t make his back ache or cake in his boots.

She said she was ready. Her sister would help. Their place in the city had a big garden and he could work it all he liked.

Did corporate farmers offer Chinamen cash for their farms? He wondered.

It was up to him, she said. They’d be close to Julie and the boys. Wasn’t that worth something?

The right boot was easier because his left foot was arthritic. Now with that boot off, blood flowing into his arch, the right boot surrendered the entire day’s tension.

He bent over and swept the clay towards the door with his hands. He wouldn’t have trouble sleeping tonight.

He never did.

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9 Comments

Filed under Michael Solender

9 responses to “Muddy Boots by Michael J. Solender

  1. I feel it all with him, this lover of earth and fresh air. Nicely done, Michael!

  2. Great compact story, Michael. So tight I forgot what this week’s them actually was! I like how you wove just the slightest amount of the Chinese influence into this one. Crafty!

  3. Len Kuntz

    great opening. sucks you in. i love the images of the mud and clay, even the pain of the foot. nicely done.

  4. love how you painted the longing for earth, for the outside. lots of melancholy there. your words were like a painting, wyeth methinks. peace…

  5. I once read that the family farm was no more special than any other family business, and I guess from the perspective of ‘real economik’ this is true, but many in my family (uncles, cousins) farm, so your story saddens me; a tribute to the writing, to be sure.

  6. thanks for that story. it brought me right there, to this doorstep. my grandparents had a farm, but my mother then turned from country to city girl, so this story held a special theme for me.

  7. Kelly Grotke

    I enjoyed this, I liked the concreteness of the muddy boots, the way he out them on, the rising and setting sun – all the regularities juxtaposed against a sense of future uncertainty and a changing world.

  8. Pingback: Week # 30 – Urban convert | 52|250 A Year of Flash

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