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  • The family used to own a farm. There was a barn, sheep, chickens, even a goat. There were hoes with well-worn handles and a tiny wooded creek that would almost completely dry up every winter.

    The granddad would wake up every morning before the dew rose to scrape a living from the land. He tended to the garden and mended the fences. The father ran a cranky diesel tractor while the mother baked corn grease biscuits. Grandma repaired frayed jeans by the hearth while the daughter held the spool. The son snuck off with burned biscuits to go bass fishing in the pond by the grain silo.

    Then one day at noon, the family sold the land to live in the city. So did the Smiths beside them and the Johnsons across the creek, as did the Williams, the Mayberries, and the Wells, all to keep up with the Jones.
    The city was well-lit. There were markets with rows of brightly colored bags and cans. The family took the money they gained by trading the farm, bought a car and moved into a three-room house, and watched a movie in the theater every Sunday evening.

    The father got a pressed suit and a pressed job. The mother split her time between the home and the market. The granddad and grandma rocked away hours on the porch or flipping channels on the television. The son and daughter went to well-lit school.

    The city now went for miles. One could drive for hours without passing a wooded creek. Way out, past the markets and theaters, there was still stood an old barn whose timbers had just begun to rot. Vines had begun marching up the grain silo, strangling the new ruins on a climb up to heaven.
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