Note: This story was created in one of our writing sessions based on writing prompts. The prompts for this story were the words ‘radio’, ‘hippie’, ‘farms’
Hippie Farms by Roderick Mitchell Jr.
Sean looked at the barren patch of land he inherited from his recently deceased dad and let out a long sigh of exasperation. Acres and acres of dirt with only the barest glimmer of possibility were laid out before him. The land wasn’t unmanageable, soil quality and yield had never been a problem, but the work involved to make a decent living off of whatever was produced was a counter-encouragement to starting the entire process.
So naturally, the question became: what should he grow?
Sean walked across the old wooden planks of the farmstead porch, the ancient timber creaked underneath even his marginal weight, and turned on an old AM radio. As he tweaked the dial, the somber voice of a woman cut in and out of the static before it resolved into something much closer to clear.
“34598278,” she said, and then five heart beats later, “9902485.”
Sean closed his eyes and took in the sound of her voice as he breathed in the crisp nighttime air of the country side. As far as he could tell, and he expended a lot of energy thinking about the subject during his youth, the numbers were absolute nonsense. Theories abounded regarding their ties to soviet spies or american black ops operations, but he never subscribed to any of that. The entire purpose of the station was to have a laugh at people who constantly sought a deeper meaning into things.
Instead, he used her voice as a tool to meditate.
He pulled out a joint he had rolled earlier and lit it, drew in the smoke until his lungs felt ready to burst, and then exhaled at a steady pace.
The numbers were always 8 digits long. His dad’s cancer ate away at him for eight years. Calling it a coincidence was a stretch. There was no significance to the information, just an idle thought that he took in with a drag and exhaled with a long sigh.
But eight was a good number.
He looked out at the field again, his eyes transforming the barren expanse into eight distinct plots for each crop he planned to grow. It was plausible. The trick would be to find crops that were always producing a yield each season. Speciality organic crops that could be sold at a premium. He didn’t need much money personally, but the cost of maintaining the land would be high. A lot of farmers went into debt just paying taxes on land they already “owned.”
Another puff, another sigh. What about one crop that was grown cyclically? He could plant one crop in one plot, wait for it resolve, and then grown another, and another, until every 2-3 months he was pulling in the dough. He shook his head. The wait would be too long and he’d run the risk of not having enough yield soon enough to turn a profit. How had his dad done it? Growing corn every year and watching as his livelihood got trademarked, patented, and then sold back to him for more than the profit he’d gain in the first place.
Sean turned up the volume on the radio and stepped off the porch while kicking his shoes off of his feet. The cool feeling of grass met his soles before gradually turning into dirt as he walked onto the farmland. The somber voice of the woman still reached his ears, even from much farther away. He took another drag. His dad always hated his habit. Then he got cancer. Sean could still remember the day his dad gave him the news. He had to drive in from the city and was bitter about it. The internet was around exactly for situations like that.
It was sunny outside and his dad was sitting on the porch looking at his crop with a haggard expression. Sean had walked up and sat down next to him, wary of the silence. Finally, his dad looked at him and asked without any trace of irony, “Got a joint? I hear it’s good for cancer.” Sean rolled one up, lit it, and took a drag before passing it to him. And that was all they ever said about the subject. For the next eight years, Sean would drive down every month and give his dad enough to get through the worst of it, and before soon, the worst was so bad not even that was enough.
What was he trying to accomplish? Did he really want the responsibility of a farm? The crushing weight of debt and unease at what the future would bring? Did he really want to live life away from the city he knew and loved for dirt and squalor? If being close to his dad was the only reason, in all honesty, he couldn’t even feel his dad’s presence here. Whatever the answer was, if he didn’t try, he would probably never find it. One year. Two Years. Three years. Even eight. Until he tried everything he could, he’d never really know what he wanted out of life.
Sean took in one last drag and threw the remains of his joint to the ground. As it fell, the seed of an idea took root in his mind and sprouted into full bloom.
He knew what’d he farm.