When I heard my father call my name, I froze. I was on my back on the top of the hay in my favorite place right next to the wall, where the sun shone through the cracks and illuminated a snowstorm of hay dust in the shafts of light. I had been there since I finished my barn chores after school. I guess I was daydreaming, although if you had asked me, I would have said I was just looking at stuff: The light, the yellow-green color of the hay that looked like it smelled and the snatches of scenes I could see through the thin cracks in the barn wall. I moved to slide down off of the pile, but hearing my name called a second time, I paused and in a split second I decided to hide from my father.
I wasn’t supposed to be up in the hay, and if I had scrambled down when I first heard him he probably wouldn’t have known I had been up there. He thought that hay shouldn’t be climbed on because it loosened the bail strings, but I was the one who did all the hay chores and I didn’t see any harm in it.
When I decided to hide, I didn’t realize he wouldn’t just look for me and then go back up to the house. Perhaps he would leave to go back to his sister’s house down the road where he lived ever since he was shot in the leg by a jealous husband. But then I heard rustling and banging and realized he was doing a chore, sweeping the floor or building something. Once in a while he would go to the barn door and call my name. I lay there afraid to move and terrified that I would have to cough. I became aware of how much dust was in the air and was sure that I’d cough and give away my deception.
Slowly, I moved my cramping leg, aware of the loud rustle it caused. I couldn’t move it enough and my calf began to hurt. My chest rattled and I tried to breathe softly into my sleeve. I began to sweat and realized that I really had to pee.
My father was probably there an hour or two cleaning up and rearranging the farm implements, but it seemed a lot longer. Every minute was elongated by my fear and discomfort. Finally I heard him talking to the horses out in the pasture and then there was silence. I waited a long time before I snuck down and saw he was gone.
I never went back up in the hay,