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by Sarah Davy

I watch as they arrive to erect the sign where the honesty box once stood. Behind me, the tractor stands idle, dust filming the windscreen, the key rusted firmly in the ignition. In the barn the annual hoots and hollers are absent, the nesting box exposed as the hay bales grow fewer, too dangerous a space to rear fragile young from flesh to feather.

The farmhouse heaves and groans now as I boil the kettle, waiting for the whistle, a call back to earth. Wind whips through the single glazing tickling the net curtains. Their bed is made up, neat with plumped pillows and eiderdown passed down through weathered hands. I sleep in my room as I always have, never daring to take my birth right, the single bed a cramped comfort.

Outside, the palette is fixed. Blue. Brown. A harvest laid waste. Voices carry from the bottom field, campers with blistered shoulders and crimson necks. They complain loudly when the paddling pool is dry. The sheep are inside, shorn, eating winter feed. I pour the tea and the bank manager nods, he understands. But there is nothing he can do. I have already seen my last harvest.

Sarah Davy lives and works in rural Northumberland, writing short stories, scripts and working on a novel with her rescue lurcher by her side. She leads writing groups and is setting up a Rural Writers Network.