When I heard my father call my name, I froze. I was lying on my back on top of the stored bales of hay next to the outer barn wall where the sun shone through the cracks and sparkled a snowstorm of hay dust. I had been there since I finished my barn chores after school. It was my secret place.
I suppose I was daydreaming, although if you had asked me then, I would have said I was just looking at stuff: the spot-lit dust, the yellow-green hay whose color predicted how it smelled, and the scenes I could see through the thin cracks in the barn wall—like little slices of the world.
I hurried to climb down off of the pile, but hearing my name called a second time—closer now—I stopped and chose to hide from my father.
I wasn’t supposed to be up in the hay, but if I had scrambled down when I first heard him he probably wouldn’t have discovered I had been there. He had told me that hay shouldn’t be climbed on because it loosened the bail strings, but I thought it was OK since 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 thought he would leave and go back up to the house after he didn’t find me. But then I heard rustling and hammering and recognized he was doing a chore–sweeping the floor or fixing something. Once in a while he would go to the barn door and call my name. There was so much dust in the air! I lay there afraid I’d give away my deception by sneezing or coughing.
Slowly, I moved my cramping leg, hyper-aware of the rustle it caused. I couldn’t adjust my limb enough to stop my calf from hurting. My chest rattled and I tried to breathe softly into my sleeve. I began to sweat, and I really had to pee.
My father was probably there an hour cleaning up and rearranging the farm tools, 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 to sneak down and see he was gone.
I don’t remember ever going back up in the hay, but I found a new daydreaming place in the top of a tall tree that stood right next to the pasture.