750 words: hay bales, part 2

Well, I did continue the story, though it is the most laid back, directionless thing I have ever written.


although split into half a dozen separate tracks by intervening back roads, the jitty seemed all one. it was dark and dismal its whole length. james could imagine maids and youths making their way along it to their doom at the hands of the minotaur. there was something about it, even after only the first short section, that made emerging into the bright, comparatively wide back roads seem the more unearthly, as if humanity belonged to this dank and fetid, claustrophobic tract more than it did to the sunshine and well kept homes along the back roads.

the last stretch of the jitty was the most foreboding. it seemed to come to a dead end and required courage to follow through to the darkest point where one sidled between a threatening clump of nettles and massive trunk of an old oak tree, over a weather beaten stile and finally emerged into the fields beyond.

light reflecting off the stubble stabbed into james’ eyes after the gloom of his trek through the jitty and he had to pause. as his sight returned to normal, he could make out the whole of the view. the jitty emerged halfway up the slope of the field so that he could see the rolls of hay dotted up and down the field. he took a few shots to establish the context for later and thought about how to approach the exercise. it would be good to start at the top of the hill and make his way down so that he could walk home along the road and avoid the jitty at dusk when it would be even less welcoming and he would be likely to have to pass people returning to their own homes from the village. but he also wanted to get a series of shots of the rolls of hay at the top of the hill against the darkening sky of evening which would mean the reverse route to that he preferred. ah, well, he thought, art must prevail. and he made his way to the bottom of the hill along the hedge of which the oak tree was one, probably unplanned, part.

his feet raised clouds of dust from the dry ground and stubble and he was soon sneezing with almost every footfall. damn, he thought, should have taken a strong does of antihistamine before setting out. his sinuses would give him hell tonight.

at the bottom of the hill, he could see that the cars on the main road were finally starting to move a little more freely. whatever incident on the motorway had caused the blockage had seemingly been cleared, or people had heard of the problem before setting out and decided to find another way. it amused him that no one seemed to notice him looking at them in their little steel boxes as they pootled past. he recalled a series of photographs taken by an american artist which were of drivers and passengers he passed on the freeway and their reactions to his aiming his camera at them. james wondered if a more candid series shot from his place here in the field might be interesting, if creepy and intrusive. another idea to float past kat.

the first bale he came to was the one he had noticed from the road earlier. close to, it was even more impressive. its size testified to the power now being applied to the ancient craft of agriculture. from the grasses cut by hand and pitchforked onto a horse-drawn dray for several hundred years, to the rectangular boxes plopped out by haymakers smoking their way along fields in the latter half of the last century to these monsters which surely could only be carried one or two at a time out of the field, he wondered how much further technology could go or would the shortage and expense of fuel and the lesser power of renewable energy sources start trends in the opposite direction.

enough philosophising, he thought, down to work. he moved around the bale to get an idea of its backgrounds. interestingly, the best shots were with the hedge and the traffic in the background so he took a few of these, two with people dimly seen in the background. he varied the f-stop to bring the background in and out of focus. he wanted some shots of the texture of the roll itself but this one was angled so that the face of the roll was either in full sun or full shadow, neither making for a good image. some of the others further up the hill were better placed. why, he wondered, were the bales not all facing the same direction. he could not imagine the harvester wandering around at odd directions nor anyone coming out and turning them around for fun. one more mystery to add to his vast lack of knowledge of modern farming.

he hung his camera from its belt-mounted hook and took out his mobile phone to check with kat about dinner. the home phone rang and rang and eventually went through to the answering machine. he left a short message saying what he was doing and asking her to ring him back then wondered whether he ought to try her mobile phone. he didn’t want to interrupt her while she was driving home but if she had stopped for a take-away, she would want him there when she got back. he could not remember if she had said anything before leaving in the morning. he decided to ring her.

again, there was no answer. he made to hang up before that call went through to the mobile company’s answering service but then realised that the ringing of kat’s phone that he had been hearing was coming, not from his own phone, but from nearby. he ended the call and looked around.


At last, it seems to be going somewhere. I might have to continue it now to see what happens.

Posted on September 2, 2011, in Fiction. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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