Wind Town 5.6

            “Sarah,” Dad called. “I need you.”
            Sarah jumped up so fast Matt felt a breeze from the motion. Blearily, he followed the blur that was his sister as she dashed to Dad. Dad’s breathing still echoed, and his hands were clumsier than usual. But he was tying a bundle of wheat when she came to a screeching halt in front of him. An instant later, she ran over to gather up another bundle of wheat and tie it while Dad reached for yet another.
            Matt blinked hard. Dad and Sarah were gathering wheat. Brow furrowing, Matt turned his head slowly to the left. Sure enough, his mother held the scythe firmly and swung it with grim determination. Eyes widening, Matt followed the angle of the swing. She cut a nice clean swath through the wheat – much more accurate than his had been. But Dad was still shaking from using it.
            Frowning, Matt struggled to sit all the way up. She’d been working non-stop since they started, but although her clothing had already begun to darken with sweat as they’d gathered the wheat, she’d still looked as put-together as she always did. Now, the darkness was spreading rapidly. Her hair was already coming free, falling down on her back and neck. There, sweat plastered it to her skin. As his own breathing began to quiet, Matt could hear how each swing made hers more ragged.
            Convulsively, Matt pushed himself to his feet and stumbled backward in reaction to the sudden screaming burn of his muscles and lungs. The burst of pain faded quickly as he straightened fully, and he only stumbled a little as he walked determinedly to Dad and Sarah. Bending to gather the wheat stretched the muscles he’d so recently abused swinging the scythe, creating a strange mix of pain and relief. He blew out a breath. He could do this.
            As he fell back into the pattern – cut, bend, gather, bundle, tie – the ache of his back and arms began to fade, overwhelmed by new burning aches in his legs and backside. When the pain became unbearable, he bent his knees. When that became too hard, he knelt and crawled forward. When that became too much, he stood again. Doggedly shifting from position to position, he pushed himself forward.
            As long as they were working, he would, too.

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