Would You Rather?

Would you rather is a game, a children’s game, a game very fitting, perhaps, for childhood when individuals have the least amount of control over their own circumstances, rights and destinies. Right?

“Would you rather?”

“Would you rather drive behind the planter or in front of it?”

Dust swirls and the air smells like dirt tastes, but sweeter in an earthy, just starting to decompose type of way. It is a smell that I can’t quite nail down. I roll up my window to avoid breathing dust lifting from the ground. The planter’s blades billow the clouds up over the road. On the wheel my fingers feel a gritty film.

“It’s illegal to pass farm equipment,” my dad said. “Wasn’t even an issue before though. You know, when you didn’t need to have so much land that you had to drive to it, your land wasn’t all split apart. Farmers just had to pull out into their own adjoining fields. Didn’t drive on highways, in traffic. No respect. Too bad. Can’t enforce our own laws.”

“Would you rather?”

“Would you rather drive behind the planter or in front of it?”

I watch the wheels roll over the gravel ledge so that the planter fits mostly in its lane as it moves towards oncoming traffic, specifically me. I drive towards the planter, or it approaches me. The skeleton made of blades wobbles. The ditch is steep on my road after being constantly cut into and levelled by repairs made for gravel trucks and snow plows. Only imbalance for someone else makes enough space for the other. I edge as close to the gravel sweep into grass still winter brown as I can.

“You don’t want to go into that ditch. You won’t come out of it. Get hung up,” my dad said. “Can’t believe they take that risk. You know they should just stay in their lane. Make the cars go around, understand what these roads are for. If they get what they want, if they like the route that’s it. City’ll say it’s meant to be and take over. You know what I’d really like to see? A semi meeting one of those big pieces of equipment.”

“Would you rather?”

“Would you rather drive behind the planter or in front of it?”

The sunsets across the horizon. I stare at the column just to the left of the driveway. Other farms have this too. A marker. A marker that used to mean class, I think. I will have to ask my dad again. Somehow my minds drift to the Mayan stone markers. I struggle to remember their name. A name. Their name is a name, and their purpose not unlike the swinging wooden sign behind the mailbox. Tall, sculpted stone placed with low circular stones referred to as altars. Stelae, were banners of glory and records of great deeds, Google tells me. Anthropologists struggle to understand their function.

Across the field at night, headlights burn. Gazing at the planter head on, even from a distance, is an explosion of flame at night. When the planters moved out of the fields to pass the house, their beams’ glow seems barely enough for the space I know they inhabit. It is a deception from this viewpoint. I breathe in an attempt to fill my lungs all the way up. Recently, I sense that I can’t. Last year at harvest time, I told myself it was an allergy to all the field dust being worked up. “No idea of what’s all blowing around in that,” my dad says and sips his own cigarette smoke.

So we can’t fight them, can’t fight them because we’re not a part of any ‘them’, can’t fight and win anyway. But if the Powers that Be, the powers of similar muscle, fight themselves, there are still scraps to be had. Empires to break apart. Stones to crumble. We move on to the larger question in the children’s game.

“Would you rather?”

“Would you rather live small or die big?”

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