Mary E Hayward
Mary has lived in Liverpool, Boston and Co. Wicklow before returning to her native Limavady where she now lives with her husband. Joining the class in 2003, she began writing just before their youngest son left home. She finds writing very therapeutic. She’s had pieces published both locally and nationally and some broadcast by Radio Ulster and RTE Radio One.
Harvest Day by Mary Ellen
"Don't forget, I need you in the field at ten sharp.
And remember to bring the rake. Annie, are you listening
to me, at all?"
"Why is it always me?" moaned Annie. "How
come she never has to do anything?”
"Kitty's far too young. Don't worry, when she's big
enough, she'll have to do her bit." Annie didn't believe
a word of it. Blonde and curly, Kitty was the apple of her
father's eye. Annie hated raking. Her brothers were given
pitchforks, which could move great swathes of corn, whereas
the stupid rake had to be dragged over the ground to gather
the left over bits. They didn't even trust her with a fork!
"Here, Annie take this can of water with you. Stooking
corn is thirsty work. I'll be down with the tea later on.”
Annie wondered why the men had to be catered for in such
a way. Mammy worked from dawn to dusk without anyone wondering
if she was hungry or thirsty. No, life wasn't a bit fair.
With a tin water can in one hand and a wooden rake in the
other Annie set off down the lane in a right bad temper.
The lane was a blaze of colour, fuchsia bushes and rowan
trees were heavy with berries. Orange rosehips danced amongst
the hawthorns. The autumn sun shone down on her. Bees buzzed
and starlings chattered. Annie dropped the rake and sat
down to have a long cool drink before turning into the cornfield
where she could see her father and brothers busy with the
"Wait for me, wait for me!" came a loud wail.
"Go home, Kitty. You're such a pest!" The loud
wailing continued. There was no peace today. Annie scanned
the field for her sibling, but could not see her at first.
Kitty's hair was the colour of the corn. Annie retraced
her steps. Before long she had found her sister. Huge tears
streaked her little face. Annie's mood began to soften.
"There now. Don't cry. I'll get you some blackberries."
The ditch was a mass of briars. Vast candelabras drooping
with dimpled blackberries reached from high above their
heads to almost ground level. Annie remembered the water
can. "Now sit here and don't move. 1 won't be long."
She flew back to retrieve it. Pouring out the water, she
skipped back to the ditch and Kitty.
"We can get millions. Won't Mammy be pleased? We'll
help her make a pie” Annie started picking and eating.
"Get me some, get me some!" Why did she have to
repeat everything?" You can get your own. I'm not your
slave!" The can began to fill. They ate fistfuls of
the sweet fruit and soon the can was overflowing. The warm
sunshine filtered through the brambles making life very
pleasant. They began to feel drowsy. Puffs of wispy thistledown
danced and swooped in the breeze.
"Come on, you. We're going home," " Carry
me, Annie. My arm is bleeding.” Annie turned around
" Phew, you're such a baby!" Annie had to laugh
at the sight before her. "Look at the cut of you!"
Kitty's face and hands were stained purple and red with
blackberries and she had a long scratch on her chubby arms.
"Look at the cut of you, Annie!" laughed Kitty.
They were friends again.
"We'll have a wee rest, then you can help me carry
the can." Looking around they found a spot in the ditch
free from nettles and briars and lay down. Clusters of hoverflies
busied themselves amongst the vegetation. Peacock butterflies
flitted amongst the golden corn. A field mouse swung precariously
from a stalk. The distant drone of a plane landing at the
aerodrome lulled them.
"Annieee! Annieee! Kittee! Kittee!" Startled,
the two girls sat upright and rubbed their eyes. Suddenly
Annie remembered the raking. Now she was in trouble. Maybe
the can of blackberries might make up for it all. If not,
she could always blame Kitty.
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