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(A short story of 2488 words)

The Corn


by Jane Rogers

A Midwestern farmer comes to terms with his daughter's weight problem.

They sat either side of the kitchen table, he and Lou, as if there was something to discuss. Sunlight and the reproachful clucking of the chickens came in the open window. The only sound inside the house was Pearl’s laboured snoring, echoing from her bedroom along the tiled corridor to the kitchen. Each breath was gasped into her throat like air was in short supply. It was exhaled in long wheezing growls each ending in a silence. The silence was sometimes too long.

‘You OK to go with her in the ambulance?’ he asked Lou, when a new breath began.

‘You ain't coming?’


Lou spread her hands on the table and studied her bitten fingernails. ‘OK,’ she said.

‘Lou -’

‘What you gonna do?’

‘Fix the fencing? Book the combine.’

She nodded.

‘Nothing I can do if I come, Lou,’ he said.


When he went outside to the light, beyond the sound of Pearl’s breathing, it was as unnerving as swimming out of his depth. But it was the hospital’s business now. Nothing he could do. He loaded some wire and tools and climbed into the ute; sat there blank for a minute, then drove right on down to the fence by the highway. He could see the ambulance arrive from there. He worked automatically. After a while he saw it heading back toward town. He put his tools in the ute and walked into the field...

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A review of The Corn from the CUT team....

A spare and economic tale that tackles a growing global issue through the eyes of one family whose mean livelihood may well be the end of them. If the hand that feeds you is also hurting you, do you bite it?

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