And here’s the other piece of flash fiction that I owe you! If you don’t remember, it was in response to this guy:

An older man with wild white hair and beard sticks his tongue out to the camera

 

I leaned against a fresh fence post, leaning back and forth, waiting for my turn. “Granda, how long have you lived out here?”

He paused midway through yanking out another clod of soil with his post-holer and stepped back, wiping down his face with the bandanna he always kept in his back left pocket. “I would guess it’s about 60 years now. Your gran and I bought this place soon after we got married. Didn’t have any barns or anything then, just wide and open as far as you could see. We weren’t in it for the farming, which you can’t right do in most of Montana anyway, and we had no desire for ranching, we just wanted the space to either side of us, enough room to stretch a little.” He tucked the bandanna away and yanked the ‘holer from the ground, neatly removing his clump of dirt.

“This was back when you started teaching, right?”

He nodded to himself before shoving the ‘holer into the ground for it’s final time. “When I thought I could still make a smidge of difference at it.” He tossed the ‘holer aside and beckoned me forward with the final fence post. I stepped forward and slammed it down into the hole and started nudging dirt in around it with my foot.

“Why’d you ever stop, anyway? Mom always says you were a great teacher, one of the best.” I stamped and stamped around the post, trying to pack the dirt in as tight as I could.

“That’s good, that’s good, let it rest. I’m not going to string the wire tonight anyway.” He turned and slung the ‘holer over his shoulder and started back down the hill towards the barn that stood beside his house.

“Granda, really. Why? No one ever talks about it and I hate not talking about things.” I nearly ran into the ‘holer over his shoulder, he stopped so fast. His shoulders drooped and he dropped the tool to the ground before turning to me.

“Because it didn’t make one whit of difference when I’d be teaching this baby boys and they’d just go off and get themselves killed in war, or these young girls who’d just go and get pregnant. They were only at college to catch a man anyway. Once they’d accomplished that…pft, off they’d go. I got tired of trying to pound an ounce of knowledge into skulls too thick to make any use of it. That and after Marta died I may have slept with the Dean’s wife…and the Bursar’s wife. They weren’t too kindly towards me after that, let me tell you.”

“I…well. Not what I was expecting to hear, not by a long shot.”

“And just what were you expecting? Murder and intrigue on the high seas? The romance of the life of a rancher overwhelmed my distaste for these rotten creatures? Hell, boy, you watch too many movies. Life happened, end of story. Things change, your fate rises and falls, and sometimes you can’t do a damn things about it.”

I gave a half laugh. “Sounds like you were making your fate rise and fall all on your own, over and over again, am I right?” I nudged him in the ribs and winked Three Stooges style and he stuck his tongue out at me before slinging the post-holer back over his shoulder and starting back down to the barn.