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Jenni Clarke - Author

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A field, passed down through generations and left undisturbed as specified in the will, is compulsorily purchased for the building of a new road.

 

Pack the bags love, we’re staying at Arthur’s tonight.’

‘Oh, no.’ Maggie’s hand flew to cover her mouth. ‘I’m so sorry they wouldn’t listen.’ She put extra sugar in his tea and stirred it well before handing Thomas the chipped mug. ‘Are you sure the family stories are true?’

‘The land was entrusted to my family, with dire warnings if disturbed. If I’d thought it was a tale, I’d ‘ve ploughed it up meself. Gawd knows we ‘ve needed the extra income.’ Thomas shook his head, and slurped his tea.

‘They paid well though, the government?’

‘What use is the money if we’ve got no home?’ Thomas slumped in misery.

‘I’m sure it won’t come to that.’ Maggie passed him a large slice of fruit cake.

‘It’s in the will. Leave the field alone, or lose the farm.’

Maggie put her hand on his shoulder. ‘It’s not our fault, this compulsive purchase road thing.’

‘No, love. It’s not.’

‘I’ll pack some things. You sit there and eat your cake.’

‘Be quick. They’d started when I was forced from the field. Who knows how long before they unleash what’s best left alone.’ Thomas ate his cake, crumbs tumbled down his hand- knitted jumper.

                                       ..

 

A man in a yellow jacket wandered across the track in front of their truck, waving his phone in the air.

‘What is he doing, Arthur?’

‘Trying to get a signal.’ He slowed down.

‘You.’ The man pointed his phone at Thomas.

‘This is the foreman, Maggie. The one who won’t listen.’

‘Listen?’ The man shouted. ‘All that talk about family secrets, so clever. Got you more money. Solid rock, that’s why you’ve never ploughed the field. We’d need to dynamite, and we can’t ‘cos your farm is too close.’

‘Thomas, did you know?’ Maggie undid her seatbelt.

‘No.’ He shook his head. ‘Never tried to plough it. Promised not to.’

The foreman’s radio crackled, he listened. ‘What? You’re kidding me?’ He thumped the bonnet. ‘You win. There will be no road.’

Thomas shook his head. ‘It’s not a game. Fill in the hole and get your men off the field, before it’s too late.’

The foreman shook his head and ran up the track and into the field.

Maggie opened her door. ‘Come on Thomas, let’s go and see the family secret.’

The ground shuddered.

Thomas reached across her lap and slammed her door shut. ‘No Maggie. We’ve gotta go now. Put yer seat belt on.’ He gunned the engine. The wheels span on the gravel before gaining traction.

‘Thomas, you’re scaring me.’ Maggie gripped her seat as the truck flew over the rise and landed with a suspension breaking crash. The truck swerved as the ground shook again.

Thomas leant on the horn as they passed the field. A cluster of hard hats gathered around a hole by the yellow machinery. They didn’t look up.

‘Damn fools.’

Another thump.

Maggie sobbed. ‘An earthquake Thomas?’

‘No, Maggie.’ Thomas stared into the rear-view mirror, his eyes wide. ‘Dinosaurs.’

 Fiction - Undisturbed Field

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