Twenty Acres

by Stacia Whitbeck
(Sidney, New York, USA)

I dreaded the task of wading through the waist-high snow that stood guard in front of the lean-to. From the back door of Momma's house, the lean-to was fifty steps. Coy dogs ran along the woods edge and I feared they would get me.

The brutally cold air was scented with plumes of wood-smoke and nipped at my cheeks as I readied my wagon.

Rows of wood that I stacked in the fall stood in waiting as I studied them. Momma preferred the pieces that fit perfectly into the stove and would sigh in great annoyance if I presented her with anything else.

Once satisfied with my selection I made my way back into the house. Sometimes one wagon-full was enough, but usually I brought in several loads.

The expanse of Momma's land looked barren and the only contrast to the white-on-white of winter's cold were the dark, twisted trees that waited for spring.

Sometimes, if Momma was in a good mood, she would make me a cup of strawberry tea after I unloaded the wood. I sat across from her at the table sipping my tea as she looked out over the snow laden fields.

Every year a waft of wood-smoke catches me off guard and I am once again haunted.

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