I was just about out the door, ready to do the job Mom gave me, when the phone rang. The caller asked if my dad was home. I yelled over the noise of the grain bin auger for Dad. Asking me who it was, he became irritated that I didn’t know. Across the yard I could see the corn spill over the edge of the basin, and I knew I was in for a big one. Not only was trouble coming, but also I was about to realize what matters most to me.
Before running into the house to take the call, Dad told me to shut off the switch between the bins on the pole for the auger, then unplug the cord and turn the tractor off. I slowly walked toward the large, ominous bins, uttering brutal words under my breath. I had other jobs to do and I was upset with him for getting mad at me about the phone call. When I finally got to the pole with the switch, I couldn’t find the right one. He hadn’t told me there was more than one, so I flipped them all, not knowing what they were for.
What I didn’t know was that I had flipped the circuit breaker, turning off the auger leading into the grinder and causing the corn to pile even higher. I started to freak out, thinking, Oh, he’s going to kill me. I flipped more switches as Dad came running, screaming at me for not doing what he had told me. It seemed like just another day in the life of my father: constant panic. Throwing things and yelling at me, he ran toward the pole to shut everything down.
“Why don’t you listen to me? Damn it!” he yelled, making me believe that he enjoys screaming at me.
For the next hour he lectured me about how to turn the auger and the mixer off until he thought I had suffered enough. As soon as I got a chance, I asked, “Am I finished?” Luckily I received the answer I wanted to hear. The woods seemed like a great escape. Across the driveway, over the barbed fence, past the deadly plains, and finally into the wild wilderness I went.
Lying in the woods, I draped my jacket around my shoulders. I could see the sun going down between the trees. “It’ll be dark soon,” I said out loud. I can’t stand being alone, but there was no way I was going back to that red-skinned, half-goat, horned, fire-eater of a father. After a half hour, though, I became so bored and cold I had to go home.
Out of the woods, back to the domestic side of the barbed fence, and across the driveway, to the yard and into my mother’s arms. I slipped from her and sank onto the freshly cut spring grass.
“Come in and wash up,” Mother demanded. She left me on the grass and walked into the house which seemed to glow from the inside.
I lay in the grass for five more minutes before I had the energy to walk inside. Through the kitchen I saw Dad standing. I tried not to make eye contact, but he is my father and I had to look at him.
Out of the blue I heard, “I’m sorry for yelling at you earlier,” in a deep voice that sounded like my dad, but couldn’t be. I walked into the bathroom with a tear of peace rolling down my cheek. I never believed a man like my dad was capable of admitting he was wrong. He had never apologized for any of his actions and I found this single apology the greatest act he had ever made. If it weren’t for this, my father, my family, my friends, my enemies, my world and myself would not matter to me.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.