The soft seeping sound of air brushing against the leafs of browning corn filled the air, a cool, pale blue screened across the sky, cloaked by a haze of dust that peered through the edges of the corn fields. Each gust tore through the plains, wafting over it like sun kissed bedding, though the peace of the afternoon was soon broken. A truck, rusted and old tore out through the dirt paths of the farmlands, within settled a man, broad shouldered and chinned, his arms worn from years of hard, treacherous farm work, his daughter, a dirty blonde haired girl, quiet and content as she peered out the dusty windows of their vehicle, and an elder son, raven hair and tanned skin, his arm resting against the door paneling to allow his younger sister to peer through the window he sat beside.
There was a stillness in their presence, that is, until the elder boy gave his sister a little push, attempting to pry her away from the window and give him some space. "God, can you not drool on me? Its bad enough we gotta deal with you running into my room about your stupid ghost." he'd chide, earning a narrowing of his father's eyes towards him, and a frustrated grumble form his sister. "The ghost isnt stupid!" She snapped.
"Kids. Thats enough." The eldest chimed, voice roughed and tired, blue eyes peering from his children out to the farmlands before them. "Soon as we get home, I want you both to get to your rooms and clean them. If it werent for this meeting I'd be up both your asses about it, but I'll leave that to Grandma." he grumbled. Before the two could retort, a loud clank was heard from beyond the truck's walls, and John gave a quiet huff, pulling the truck to the side and shifting it into park. "Come on, Joe- get the jack." he mutters, climbing out, the eldest boy rolling his eyes. "Why is it when bad shit happens I'm always the one to fix it."
Casey narrowed her eyes, and climbed out behind her brother, her short legs dangling over the edge of the truck's seat, leaping out into the dirt and grass with a little huff. She shuffled about to her father, arms crossed over her chest. "Dad-" she mumbled, picking at his worn, tattered overshirt, a hole or two gaining her attention. "What is it, Murphy." He hummed, showing his son how to jack the car up a few inches. "Why'd you and Mom call me that?"
"Cause your always ruining shit." Joe retorted, Casey glaring back at him a moment, her bottom lip poking out just a tad, arms folding tighter over her chest as her cheeks reddened a tad. "So I'm named after something bad??" The father would have scolded Joe again, though John paused, looking back to her a moment. He stood upright and smiled, just gently, his hand going to ruffle her hair. "Murphy's law isnt something bad, Case. It means 'If something can go wrong, it will.'." He gave her a little side hug, squeezing her in close, which she sighed in retort, her arms loosely hugging about him in return.
A shriek overhead caught the three off guard, Joe jolting back and causing the jack to pop out in the same movement, John tearing his eyes up towards the sky, his dirty glasses having to be pushed back up his broad nose, and Casey letting out a little cry of excitement. "I SPOTTED IT!!" she'd cry, rushing to the truck to climb in. "Come on, Joe, stop laying around!" John would call, rushing to the driver's side. The boy gave a grumble and was quick on his feet, throwing the jack into the truck bed and rushing to climb in as well.
A chase gave way, John handing the wheel over to his son, and as they tore through the fields, something began to loom through the air.
Upon arrival of the home, Grandma was busy shuffling around to fix something for the three to eat. "John my boy!" she'd call to him, he quickly entered with his children, dragging in parts from the drone they had just snatched from the sky itself. "Hey Granny-" "John, the neighbors came over and were complaining about the machinery malfunctioning- and the school called about the meeting!" John gave a weary laugh, rubbing his hand through his raven hair.
"Alright- alright. I'll head out in a sec." He snatched a piece of cake from the table, Granny slapping his hand quickly. "Dad- the ghost is back again." Casey hurried over to him from the upper level, eyes wide in fear. Joe could be heard in the distance, mockingly mimicking his sister. "SHUT UP JOE!!" she barked, while John licked his finger clean and rested his hand upon her shoulder.
"Remember what I told you about getting your facts before you tell your story?" he asked softly, Casey puffing up her cheeks in the same moment. "But dad-!!" "Get all the info you can on that ghost of yours, and then I'll break out my equipment, ey? We'll suck em right out of those books." he snickered, patting her head and earning a grumble, before heading off to his truck again.
John found himself settled at the desk of his children's principle, the mans fingers rapping against the table top as he went over that semesters grades. "Joe has been doing his best in his grades this year, that much is clear, I find it difficult at times when he finds his way to my office, but the attendance issues have since then depleted, Mr. Egbert." He spoke, his words laced with an air of superiority towards the old pilot, the papers in his hands going to land on the table top with a gentle thud. "He'll make a good farmer one day."
That statement held heavily on John's heart, and his thick black eyebrows furrowed in confusion, blinking a moment, before his eyes narrowed. "What do you mean, farmer?" he whispered.
"Your son is bright, but what his passion is seems to be following in your footsteps-"
"So what youre tellin me is that you wont give my son a passing glance to go to one of yer fancy colleges and stick him in the dirt and dust because he's not a genius?" John's words were bitter, harsh as he tried his best to loosen his grip on his pants. "Sir, thats not what I'm saying-" "What if he wants to be an engineer-"
"John... perhaps back in our prime, yes. But we dont need Engineers anymore. What we need is farmers."
Upon this statement, John leaned back into his chair, his blue eyes wild in frustration, in anger, though he swallowed those emotions as a woman entered the office. "Ah, Miss Chelly. Thank you for joining us." The principle spoke, moving to allow her a seat. "I'm here to speak to you about Casey." She addressed John firstly, who again, narrowed his eyes.
"Your daughter was in a fight a few days ago during our show-and-tell. She had gotten into this scuffle with a few other children due to the content she was showing the class." She muttered, producing a book. John quirked a brow, scoffing. "What, did she show you a smuppet magazine or something?" he retorts, gaining a disapproving look from both teacher and principle.
He looked from their faces down to the item- a space and aerodynamics book, which he gave a kind and reminiscent smile. "This was mine when I was a kid." he rapped his finger against the cover, while the teacher spoke once more. "Well, the problem was that she was reading about the lunar landings..." She spoke, gaining the confused look of John once more. "Whats wrong with that?" "Whats wrong with that is that the sections about this mission werent redacted from it! All our history books have been updated already- due to the mission being outted as a hoax to bankrupt the soviet union?"
This again, tore into John like a well of lava filling his gut, his hand going to shakily fix his glasses. "You dont believe we went to the moon?" he spoke, his voice shaking just a tad.
The woman looked towards the principle, her mouth opened as if to try and speak, but no words came out a moment. "I believe it was a brilliant piece of propaganda to get the soviet union to pour their money into space rockets and other useless machines. And if we dont want a repeat of the exes and wastefulness of the 20th century then we need to teach our kids about this planet."
"Not tales of leaving it."
John sat there, nodding his head as if he were trying to conclude everything this woman was speaking to being nothing more than hogwash and horsespittal. But all of it rung so heavy when she said it- the woman who was teaching his daughter? Who she was supposed to be residing her trust in- she was speaking gibberish to the worn man.
"Useless machines?" He repeated, just barely over a breath. "You know, one of those useless machines they used to make was called an MRI..." He darted his blue eyes towards her, her stance slowly retreating back. "And if we had anymore of those left, the doctors would have been able to find the cyst in my wife's brain before she died instead of afterwards." He rapped his fingers against the arm rests, his eyes tearing from the woman trying her best to speak but not finding the words.
"Then she'd be the one sitting here listening to this instead of me which would have been a good thing." he began to tap his boot. "She was always the calmer one."
The woman found her voice, "I'm sorry, Mr Egbert... for your wife. But Casey got into a fist fight with several of the other students because of this apollo nonsense, so we thought it would be best to bring you in and see what sort of ideas you had to fix her behavior."
John took a breath, leaning forward a tad, giving his chin a little rub, before moving to stand.
"Theres a baseball game tomorrow- hotdogs, some candy...maybe some popcorn." he tapped the book in his hands against the desk of the principle. "I think I'll take her to that. See if it helps."
The game was slow, the sun was warm against the family's skin, the youngest settled between the elder brother and father, but during this moment, the corners of the city grew dark, and the sun began to cloak as a shelf of dust grew over the city. An alarm tore out into the air, and the father gave a frustrated grumble. "Alright kids- to the truck!" he called them, hurrying down the steps with his youngest at his side.
On their way back to their home, the shelf of dust grew too much to handle, and they pulled off to the side of the road, Casey giving a grumble as she leaned back in her seat. "Dont worry." John gave a soft hum, giving her knee a pat. "Seasons almost over-" Joe turned over, laying on one side as he peered out at the dark of the dust. "Why's it getting worse?" He'd murmur. John quirked his brow, taking his glasses off to clean them off. "Getting worse?" he'd ask quietly, the elder boy looking back to him. "The dust- it keeps getting worse."
John stared at him a moment, those blue eyes boring into his son, the look of worry worn on the younger boys face, those large brown spheres glued to his father for hope- for reassurance as the storm outside wore on. But John had no answers, he had no knowledge of why or how it was. He knew the world was aging, he knew their crops kept depleting... but he prayed for years in the future there would be some turn over for his children. He hated farming.
He hated it so much.
"Sometimes things gotta get worse to get better." he spoke gently, giving his boys arm a little squeeze, which he frowned further so. "I wish it didnt get worse." Joe would lean back as well, though John smiled further so and sighed.
"Dont we all."
As soon as they arrived home, the children rushed off to their rooms, old floor boards aching beneath their feet, dust gusting through the windows. "CLOSE THE WINDOWS!" John barked up to them as he hurried about the home to shut and lock the windows in the living room and kitchen, hurrying up after them soon after, hearing the scuffling of Joe in his messy room rushing to close his windows and lock them, where as he didnt hear the same from his daughter.
"Casey-!" he called, hurrying into her room. Casey was frozen, instead of shutting her window, she glued her eyes to the shelf in front of her. Lines had formed in the ground, the dirt about their feet forming into patterns illuminated by the lamp that had been tossed over due to the harsh winds gushing outside, each particle landing in an equal pattern.
John shut the windows, silence reigning over him a moment, his daughter reaching to cling to his sleeve.