Day 297: The Farm

The Farm
Matt Zurbo

Elena and Gus were excited!
(Two Latino kids. Boy sitting on edge of bed, rubbing eyes. Girl on bed, jumping up and down. Dawn breaking through mango tree outside window. Room, simple white walls.)

They were from a small family, in a town on the plains.
(Another Dad and Mum hunched in front of a small 70s VW Beatle car. Small girl (Indi) in back, Elena excited, jumping in, Brother and Dad behind her.)

But once a year they went to Uncle Carlos’s Farm!
(Farmer with black moustache greeting them from his porch, hugging Gus, Elena excited in his other arm.)

And so did their cousins!
ALL of them!
(Two dozen kids getting out of cars of all shapes and sizes, hoping off the back of wagons, etc… Closest are the small girl, Indi, dressed neat, and her mum, as opposed to the bare feet/sandals and ratbags of the others.)

From the mountains and from the cities and from the coast, and from small villages like theirs.
(Kids of all shades, smiling, laughing, one or two trying to catch a rooster, that is flapping wings in the air.)

“This is the best time!” Elena cheered.
(Kids all down by the stream, splashing in water, on tire tube, jumping off branch into water, etc… In background, Indi just watching. Her mum over her shoulder.)

“The best!” Gus agreed.
(Three or four kids, led by Gus, covered head-to-toe in mud, one holding a piglet as they are being chased by a pig…)

At the end of the day, Uncle Carlos would tell everybody about music from the plains.
(All cousins, dozens, surround Carlos who is sitting on porch, arms out, as if telling a tale.)

“Originally, dairy farmers were all musical,” he said.
(Old, grainy photo in Carlos’s hand, of traditional Latin American farmer, with simple straw hat, holding a cuatro guitar – bit bigger than a ukulele, smaller than acoustic guitar.)

  “To gather the cows, they would sing beautiful love songs, while their horse strolled through the paddocks…”
(Farmer sitting on strolling hors, singing, playing his cuatro. Cows starry eyed, following.)

“And the cows would follow.”
(Farms sitting on milking stool, singing, as he milks, cow happy/content.)

(Simple, image, no words, of Carlos carry hay, surrounded by the cousins, all laughing, talking, teasing each other as they follow around him. Indi still dressed too nice, out to the side, not really joining in.)

Meanwhile, the adults all prepared a feast!
(Sweeping leaves, open fires, huge pots, etc… Cousin or two watching fro behind trees.)

It was the best time!
(Carlos at head of simple table outside of house, everybody eating, including many cousins on ground, or using wood blocks, buckets, etc, as tables. Some adults, and cousins, are playing instruments and dancing.)

“I like he sleepover the best,” Elena would whisper to her brother.
(Boy sitting, propped up by hands, in bed, girl, head on pillow, smiling.)

“All these stories…”
(Wider image. The bedroom has about twelve kids in it. There are also kids sleeping in the hall.)

“All these hopes…”
(Kids sleeping in makeshift beds on kitchen floor.)

“All these dreams.”
(Dozen kids sleeping in hammocks outside.)

Uncle Carlos could be grumpy.
“You’re on a farm! Everybody work!” he would bark.
(Carlos hauling hay while shouting. Kids around him working. In background, Indi’s mum is stopping her from working.)

“I love it!” Gus would smile.
(Covered in dirt, straining to push a cow from behind. Cow is just standing there. Elena is carrying water buckets. Some cousins laughing as they jump/scamper over the rock fence, escaping. Indi watching, her mother behind her, holding her shoulders.)
Some hated it.
Others hid!

Their time on the farm wasn’t perfect. A few of the cousins liked to tease their prima Indi for always being shielded by her Mama.
(Group of cousins, some kicking dust at each other, laughing, teasing Indi, who is still clean and dressed nice.)

“Leave her alone!” Elena roared.
(Elena standing between bad cousins and Indi, shouting hard! Other cousins startled.)
It was the first time she ever spoke aloud. It even surprised herself!

And Indi….
(Girl watching Elena argue with six bigger cousins, without taking a backward step.)

Gus was always cheeky, but today he had an actual plan…
“Tomorrow morning, I have a way we can pay tio Carlos back for letting us stay on his farm…” he whispered to his sister.
“Okay,” Elena whispered, too. “But only if we bring Indi along.”
(Brother and sister whispering, while behind them cousins milk cows, all hopeless at it.)

Then next morning, well before dawn, Elena, Gus and Indi set off to bring the cattle to the dairy themselves…
(Brother and sister out front, tip-toeing. Gus with cuatro, Elena with saddle, Indi following, uncertain.)

“I’m not sure,” Indi fretted. “Mama would not approve.”
“I know! Isn’t it great!” Gus grinned.
(Three of them tip-toeing through paddock with sleeping cows in it. Dawn just starting to break behind them.)

“Hold the horse steady, Indi,” whispered Elena, then she began to sing… horribly!
(Dawn. Gus, looking very small, in saddle, unbuckled, on horse, Elena standing on horse’s back behind him, playing guitar, with broken notes coming out, and mouth open, singing. Horse looks shocked, goggle-eyed. So do cows.)

Look out!
“Oh no! Quick, catch them!” cried Gus.
(Horse rearing, brother and sister being thrown free. Indi being thrown into the air. Cows all bolting.)

“This sort of thing always happens with you, Gus!” wailed Elena.
(Indi sitting in cloud of dust, filthy. Gus and Elena chasing last of the cows.)

Poor Indi was horrified, embarrassed. They had LOST tio Carlos’s cows! There was NOTHING worse for a farmer.
(Girl walking back through paddock, head lowered, clothes dirty, crying. Dragging cuatro, which is making very small ‘ting’, ‘blink’, ‘twang’ noises as it bumps along ground.)

(Same setting, Indi had walked further along. Holding torn, dirty dress as she goes, sobbing and sniffling, still dragging cuatro with other hand. A cow or two are entering frame behind her, curious.)

Indi’s mama would never let her do anything with her cousins now…
(Same setting. Indi to the far right of page now, still head lowered, sobbing, not aware cows are now following her.)

Meanwhile, tio Carlos had gathered everyone to search for his stampeding cows!
“They could be anywhere!” he raged.
(Carlos in middle of yard, shouting, waving arms, Gus and Elena in front of him, looking very guilty, while other cousins run around, searching.)

Then, the sound of a little girl’s sobs made everybody stop.
(Everybody frozen where they were, heads turned to look at sobbing girl walking into yard, dragging cuatro, being followed by cows.)

Indi was a hero!
(Indi, happy, a bit baffled, tears still on her face, battered cautro still in her hand, is being thrown into the air by happy cousins, including Elena and Gus.)

That morning the milk tasted even fresher!
(Elena, Gus, their dad, Indi and her mum and Carlos, all tilting their heads back, downing glasses of fresh milk.)

And the day, for Elena, Gus… and Indi… lasted and lasted!
(Them, and a few other cousins playing in the hay, all of them, including Indi, covered is straw, ruffled clothes.)

And lasted even more, as if it would never end!
(Boys dangling/leaning down from tree to upset girls having a tea party with dolls under it.)

(All cousins walking back toward the farmhouse, talking, happy, tired. Elena, Gus and Indi in middle.)

Leaving all their cousins, and tio Carlo, was always very hard for Elena. Oh, she loved them all so!
“I don’t want to go!” she would moan.
(Dad carrying Elena, who is looking back over his shoulder at Carlos, who is waving good-bye.)

But prima Indi simply couldn’t wait to come back again!
(All of them in small car, like at start. Elena and Gus exhausted, sleeping. Indi wide-eyed, happy, straw still in her hair, looking out car window.)



The End




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