Sunday 6 February 2022



by Gill James



They arrived at two in the afternoon. They rattled and shook. There were so many of them that you couldn't see the sun. 150 billion per square kilometre, he'd read. He'd never been able to visualise that. Now he'd seen it.

By quarter past two they were gone. And so were most of his crops. Just a few forlorn stalks remained.  

"It's no good, boss," said his foreman after they'd gone. "There's no future for us here now." Bob had no inclination to take the man's outstretched hand. 

By two the next afternoon, all of the other men had gone. 

Bob looked at his devastated land. There were just a few bits of wheat he could save. They could replant. They could try a different crop. Except that there was nobody to help him with the work.       

After the last of the men had gone, Adelinde came into his office. The normal sparkle was missing from her eyes. "I'm taking Jo and Benny to the city," she said. "We'll stay with Ma and Pa until you decide what to do."

He watched her pack. This wasn't just for a few days.

The next morning he helped her to load the waggon.

"When will you come, Pa?" asked Benny.

"Soon. Soon."

Adelinde frowned.

Jo just stared. He couldn't tell what she was thinking.

After they'd gone he set to. He harvested the few stalks of wheat that were left. He tried to re-plough the land but it was too hard. He only managed to reseed a little patch.

He started taking a glass of whisky each night. Then it became two glasses, then three.

One night he had four before he even started cooking. He managed to pour boiling water on his foot.       

The next morning he woke with a sore head and a painful foot. He wouldn't be able to do any work that day. 

All he could still see was total devastation, even after the weeks of work. 

He packed up his personal belongings. Next he boxed up all the bits and pieces he knew Adelinde loved. He got the horse and the spare wagon ready. He rode over to the Derwents. "Use the land if you can," he said. "Take anything you want from the house. We're not coming back."

After he got back from the Derwents he set off. The sun was shining but there was a refreshing cool breeze. All would be good.

After he got to the city he would look for a job. Hadn't his father-in-law always said, "You should come to the city, son. There's plenty of work." He could even set up as a handyman. Help widows and spinsters with the jobs husbands would normally do.

After he'd got a good job they could find a place of their own.

After that she would be proud of him, wouldn't she?

He whistled as he drove on. There was, after all, hope after the locusts. Afterwards.      

About the author 

Gill James is published by The Red Telephone, Butterfly and Chapeltown.  

She edits CafeLit.

She writes for the online community news magazine: Talking About My Generation

She is a Lecturer in Creative Writing and has an MA in Writing for Children and PhD in Creative and Critical Writing




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