John Duffy – The Field

John Duffy comes from Ballina, County Mayo.

He loves sports, especially soccer and basketball and he’s an avid fan of Manchester United Football Club. Duffy is an electrician by trade and writes prose as a pastime.

He currently resides in Toronto.

The Field

 By John Duffy

The field behind our house was a fantastic place. The earth was fertile and the grass, green and lush. There were small hills, big hills and rolling hills. Directly behind our home a large, grey rock in the shape of a skull stood as a dominant feature. My brothers and I called it The Big Rock. It had a smooth feel to it and was easy to climb. I buried my first dog, Rocky beside The Big Rock. In another part of the field a long, rectangular shaped rock had engravings in the face of it. We called it The Little Rock, to differentiate it from The Big Rock. At the bottom of the hill, close to The Little Rock was a small, pointed rock, we named The Littlest RockSome people said the field was a pre-Christian burial ground and all the different rocks had been positioned, hundreds of years previously by the Celts.

 At the top of the hill, rabbits would sometimes appear in the evening. If any potential danger came too close they would scurry inside their burrows quickly. On rare occasions, the Irish hare would make an appearance. The hare was taller and moved faster than the rabbits. It was a creature of beauty to watch running, especially when the grass was wet and water was flicked up by its hind legs.

In a corner of the field close to the entrance to the cemetery was a swampy area, we called The Sinky Place. A stone, water trough in the middle supplied cattle with water. At the back of the field between the old graveyard and Saint Patrick’s church, a row of blackthorn bushes divided our field with another, less interesting field. There were more rabbits burrows there and at certain times of year yellow cowslips and buttercups grew by the bushes. I loved this part of the field. It was a peaceful place with the sound of small birds singing.

One evening after school I took a walk through the field. I knelt by The Littlest Rock, closed my eyes and prayed to God. I prayed hard and asked Him to enable me to fly like Superman. I wanted to fly overland and the only man I knew who could fly was Superman. To seal my request I plucked some dandelion puff balls and blew the white parachutes, letting the breeze carry them away with my prayer.

I continued walking through the field until I reached The Quarry. This long strip of ground had steep embankments rising on either side. There were ridges and bushes on the sides. At the back, a tall, stone wall sealed the area off. It was a dead end. The old train line which once connected Ballina with Killala used to pass through The Quarry. It was a great place to play Cowboy’s and Indians with my brothers and friends.

I climbed one side to try out my flying skills. I knew God wouldn’t let me down. When I reached the top I turned around and looked down. A cool breeze blew across my face. I stretched my arms in front of me like Superman and closed my eyes. I took one nervous step off the edge and jumped. After the jump I immediately fell down and opened my eyes in alarm. I tumbled head over heels, and then skidded down the embankment on my backside until I reached a bush. My arms and legs were torn by stones and some thorns from the bush got stuck in my hands and scalp.

I limped away from The Quarry towards home. There were scratches on my arms and blood flowed from my left leg. I needed to see my mother. I jumped the barbed wire fence and landed in the green area next to our house. As I landed on the ground a movement in the grass caught my attention. I stood still and peered into the overgrowth. It was a thrush. The bird was unable to fly and was forced to run along the ground. It ran quickly under the barbed wire fence and into the field. I jumped back over the fence and followed it down toward The Sinky Place. It ran along the ground until the earth turned to soft mud and it was unable to proceed any further. I picked up a heavy rock and held it over my head. The bird fluttered its brown wings in the mud and its spotted breast expanded and contracted. Its tiny eye seemed to observe my movements. I was about to throw the rock on top of it but something prevented me and I was unable to hurt it. The rock came down and landed in the soft, mud beside the bird. The force of the rock thrust the thrush up from its muddy captivity and it flew away from The Sinky place.

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