“Stevie, can you please hurry up? Dinner’s almost ready, and you still need to clean yourself.”
“Alright, yeah, yeah. I’m coming Ma,” an exasperated Steven replied. He always felt a slight twinge of annoyance when his mother called him sweetie. Besides, he had just turned nineteen a few months ago.
“I’m on my way,” gasped Steven, clinging to a tree in order to stay upright. He had finished his daily jobs for the yard behind his house only moments ago. A very, very large yard behind his house. Twenty-three acres and three quarters, to be exact.
He and his mother lived on a family-owned farm. An ordinary farm, much unlike his name, of course. They lived alone, out in the far, far middle of nowhere, 112 Shevolds Lane, Mickelson Township, Nebraska, home of the Lincoln Saltdogs baseball team. Not that he ever watched sports, as there was barely enough reception to listen to nightly radio. They were completely isolated from the outside world with an exception of a dirt path cutting through the endless miles.
“Heyo, Stevie-sweetie, Mama’s growing some good ol’ white hairs over here waiting for ya’. Why don’t you ever hug me like you’re hugging that tree right now?”
Steven, lips curling the slightest, slowly trotted to the back porch. Today was a particularly grueling day for him, having to spray most of the bug repellent to account for the high population of pests this year. Nothing out of the ordinary, however, for Steven, as he has, since a little boy, tended this farm. Early in the morning, he would wake and finish the more physical work. Noon, he would take a brief nap, and only to awake late in the afternoon to perhaps some tilling or pest control. The next day would mirror the previous, and so on, rinse and repeat.
So what was difference between today, the twenty-sixth of July, 2017, and tomorrow, the twenty-seventh? This question, a simple question, flew through Steven’s mind every single day. If life is a repeating cycle, why value it? What is the purpose of today, if today is just going to be like yesterday? Or like tomorrow?
Steven asked himself over and over again that night, staring up at the wooden ceiling of his bedroom. The same wood he saw yesterday, in the same position, at the same time. And as the day before. Just like those previous days, he fell asleep, thinking about through and through again. Eventually it boiled down to a much simpler question: What even was the point of living?
Next morning, Mrs. McDean called down Steven, precisely seven o’clock sharp. He groggily walked downstairs to find his mother washing the pans and a plate of eggs and bacon, freshly fried moments ago. Sitting down, Steven grabbed the salt shaker, turning the crank two and a half revolutions, exactly the same every day.
Perhaps today was going to be different, Steven thought. Then again, he always felt this way for every day. But Steven, after eighteen straight, repetitive, simple years, had come to hate the feeling of monotony. He desperately wanted to change. With that in mind, Steven openly expressed his thoughts.
“H-hey, uh, Mother, can I ask you a question?”
“Sweetie, you just did,” she answered, rolling her eyes.
“Well, hey, I was wondering, am I going to do this for the rest of my life?”
Mrs. McDean stopped washing, slightly shifted her head towards Steven. She then smiled. “Oh, my Steven. Have you finally wanted to accept the farm into your ownership?”
Steven sputtered, “Oh, wait, um, h-hold on-”
“So you’ve at last found an interest in farming! I knew the day would come when Steven McDean would come to enjoy the wonders of tending crops, feeding pigs, milking c-”
“No!” Steven shouted, a little more forcefully than anticipated. However, the effect was, well, effective. Mrs. McDean shocked, stopped mid-thought, and stared at what seemed to be the quietest boy on Earth.
“No, Mother, that’s the problem. How can you live like this, alone in the middle of nowhere, with no one except beings of otherly species, and nothing to do but tend miles and miles of plants?”
Mrs. McDean sat down with Steven. “Well then, I was not expecting this. I…I always strongly believed that you enjoyed the farm life. I, quite frankly, don’t know what to say.”
Steven felt suddenly horrible. “Ma, you know I don’t mean to be mad at you, but come on, I can’t live on a farm like this.”
Mrs. McDean took a long, deep breath. “Alright, I understand. But for generations, the McDean family has run this farm. And the farm has supplied us with food for decades. It’s more than just what one generation wants. It’s what the past has given us, and what we will give the future.”
She took another long, shaky breath. “My parents always said that this farm was more than just essential food and money. This farm was their pride and soul, their honor and glory, and it now too is mine.”
Then, casting her eyes away, she gave a brief nod, as if giving approval to Steven. “Sweetie, I-I think if this life, um, isn’t what you want, uh, and then you should find your own place in life, regardless to what I think. I always knew that at some point down the line, this farm was going to be lost to our family. And- and if it makes you happy, then…”
Steven, shocked upon hearing his mother’s reaction, did not have an answer. However, he had already made his decision.
That was the final conversation he had with his mother. Steven moved to the East Coast, and his mother passed away soon after he left. He sold the farm a year later, and began a new chapter of his life.
Sixty years had passed, and Steven, now with a family of a wife and three children, as well has two grandchildren, was experiencing the future. Technological advances allowed production of farms to exponentially increase, tended by robots and machines. Vegetables were grown in controlled environments, maximizing seasonal output, far out of human reach. Farms were run by humans have become non-existent.
Steven hopped out of his hovercar, walked off the highway into a dense forest. Following an overgrown footpath down into a mysterious piece of greenery, Steven had lost his sense of direction. However, old instincts drove him forward, propelling his legs. He found a two story, broken-down house with vines creeping around the edges as well as shattered windows and doors. Walking up the front porch, he saw, on the corner of his vision, 112 Shevolds Lane.
But what caught his eye was a small envelope placed neatly in a basket hanging from the door frame. Magically untouched, Steven opened the seal, revealing a letter with a short phrase.
From my heart and soul to your honor and glory.