Turning point

sheep-and-car

Photo courtesy of Sandra Crook

“Go,” his father said. “Take this chance.”

So Carl left. One brief email accepting the scholarship – as easy as that. Dad watched as he drove off.

Four hours on the road, in a daze of uncertainty, and now these stupid sheep with their blank eyes and manic bleating had brought him to a stop and set him remembering.

Nine dry years. They’d battled on, the two of them, till all their stock was dead or sold for a pittance.

“Go,” he’d urged. “I’ll be okay.”

The road cleared. Carl started up, then turned, stirring up dust. He’d be back home before dark.

*****

For 27 years we lived in Dubbo, in the central west of New South Wales, and although we lived in town, the struggles of the farmers were never far from our minds, especially during the nine long years of drought that finally broke not long before we moved away. This week’s prompt took me back to those years and the struggles faced by farming families.

The sheep in Sandra’s photo look well fed and healthy, but during bad times farmers here will take their starving sheep along the roads, letting them graze on the grasses that survive along the roadside. It’s known as ‘the long paddock’.

This is my contribution to Friday Fictioneers. Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting this weekly flash fiction get-together. The other stories can be found here.

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19 thoughts on “Turning point

    • I’m glad the ending left you wondering. I wanted to show the agony of making a decision when every option is problematic. Thanks, Bjorn, for your kind comment.

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  1. I really like how he turns back. Whatever they decide, after working together for so long, they should decide together. Great story, and the background info is very interesting. I can’t imagine the hardship these farmers must face.

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    • Droughts are part and parcel of life in my country, but nine years of little useful rain sent many farming families to the wall. Horrible times. Thanks for commenting, Gabriele.

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  2. I learnt so much in these 100 words – about you’re fictional characters and about the real world.
    Not sure if he made the right decision – but we all care about it.
    Those ‘blank eyes and manic bleating’ is a great description.

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    • Thank you mjl. I wanted to use that description but I kept going over length. It went in and out countless times. I’m so glad you liked it, and thank you for caring about my characters. Lovely comment.

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  3. That would be a horrible choice to make. Thanks for the interesting background story about the drought in New South Wales. Farmers in India sometimes do a similar thing with their cows by letting them eat garbage. That can have a tragic ending though as at times they eat plastic that sticks in one of their stomachs. Good writing, Margaret. —- Suzanne

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    • Thank you, Suzanne. I’m glad you found it interesting, and I’m fascinated by your story of the Indian practice. Plastic! Who would have imagined it could cause problems in this way, as well as all the other problems it creates – the waterways come to mind.

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