Driving Through Quilted Farmland
“Where are we?” Gloria asks as she rubs her eyes and yawns. Her neck is a little stiff.
Stuart glances at her and mumbles a reply she cannot understand.
So he’s in a bad mood, she thinks, and looks ahead. He has turned off the radio, and the silent road stretches out before them like a long black ribbon sewn into a green-gold-and-blue speckled bedspread.
Rows of earth-colored crops with many textures dot the scenery and disappear under the deep blue sky all around them. Golden sunrays glimmer on the landscape, and dance to the tune of the meandering wind as it rustles through the corn, the wheat, the barley. It is like driving on a quilt, and each crop a patterned square.
What put Stuart into such a bad mood in the little time she fell asleep? Gloria shrugs, she will not allow it to get to her. It’s a beautiful evening, and Gloria wants to open the window and feel the farmland-scented wind in her hair. But Stuart will only bark at her. All she needs to do is wait, and Stuart will be his lovely self soon enough. The road is long and the wind eternal, she will open the window many other times.
They near a speck on the road; the sun is low on the horizon and the sky will soon blaze in hues of red and orange as it sets.
Stuart slows down as they approach the speck — a slow-moving vehicle. Gloria takes a chance and rolls down the passenger-side window. The breeze sprinkles her face. She sneaks a side glance at Stuart; his puckered mouth signals annoyance.
“It’s a cart with hay!” Gloria exclaims as if she has never seen one.
Stuart growls; Gloria smirks. Pushing his buttons now and again does wonders for the spirit.
They inch to a pause, and Stuart turns on the blinker, announcing to no one he intends to pass. The cart trudges onwards. Stuart edges the car onto the oncoming lane and cautiously overtakes the cart.
Gloria observes the cart as they pass. A man in gray breeches and tall boots walks beside the workhorse, who looks like it cannot carry its own soul, let alone pull the cart. The man seems to take no notice of them, and the horse stares ahead and trudges on, exhausted. Gloria glimpses the man’s brown doublet under his long cloak, and notices his steeple-crowned, broad-brimmed hat.
“Amish,” Stuart snarls and they speed away. She rolls up the window as the wind bites at her cheeks.
Gloria gazes at him with a puzzled expression, “No, I don’t think they dress like that.”
Stuart rolls his eyes, “Whatever.”
Gloria shakes her head and looks out the window. She glances at the side-view mirror and sees only the empty road behind, tinted in red as the sun dips under the horizon.
That man was not Amish, Gloria knows. She also ponders the man’s blank expression as they pass, as if he never saw them.
“I heard no hoofbeats,” Stuart says intrigued, “they made no sound.”