The Last Day
The late summer sun hung idly just below the horizon. Gold and amber light strung in bands across the arching horizon, a thread of dark clouds silhouetted above them. The wheat stood tall and silent, giving way to the slightest of breezes. It bowed in long strokes that stretched across the field, as if paying homage to the star, awaiting its inevitable arrival. It would be only minutes before it made its appearance, signaling the dawn of the last day.
The man sat inside the noisy combine as it rumbled across the top of the hill, revealing a breathtaking view of the land that stretched before him, his land. He was alone, driving the only great machine that marred the beautiful landscape. He had sent the laborers home, if this day was the last, it would be his. His to share with his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather and all the ancestors before them he never had a chance to know. He would soon, he knew.
He had to wonder, on this last day, what the first must have been like. Somewhere across the seas, in a land he couldn’t imagine, in a time he would never understand, was there a man like him? Who looked at this grain and wondered what could be done with it? Could it be planted again and again, in different climates and different seasons; could it be ground down and made more powerful, something to be used to feed the masses? Could it be made to end hunger? And would it have the reverse effect now, would its absence cause starvation?
The wheat swayed in the gentle breeze again and the man turned the beast, its great wheels twisting in the fruitful soil, pulling him across the landscape and toward its fateful end. He had time, he knew. He could easily finish, likely in just a few hours. So he would savor it, take his time. He would use these last few moments to consider the things he had ignored before.
His mind rattled with unanswered questions, questions he knew now he would not ever know the answers to. What was that first man like? How did he live? What would he think now, if he saw us? Would grief plague his heart to see the last of it, this great crop being plucked from the landscape? Or was it possible for the cycle to begin again? He knew the answer to that one, somehow. Deep within his essence he knew that this had been the last chance, the final opportunity to get it right.
He wondered then if the day felt much the same to everyone else. As they sat in their cubicles in their buildings that touched the sky, or in their cars lined up in tidy rows on crowded highways. As they scheduled conference calls and taught the importance of selling high and buying low. Or even the children, as they kissed their parents goodbye and ran to the bus stop. Did they know what this day was?
He reached the spot, just in time. He stopped his heavy machine, turning the engine off and interrupting its harvesting power. He was quite young when his father had brought him here, sat him upon his knee and told him where the boundaries of their land lie. He charged him with a duty, that day, to protect his family, protect his land, as long as the sun shone upon it. So now was the moment, and he wanted to enjoy it. Remember it, if there was in fact a way to reminisce in the future that lay before him. He watched in reverence as the first drop of molten light offered its breadth to the field in front of him. The light revealed the true, beautiful color of it – warm, blonde and rich; life-giving. But no more after today. Not again, after the last day.