Saturday 26 June 2021

'Love' by Steven Moss

James loved that tractor more than anything. He skipped school to spend time greasing the clutch. Mum grounded him, which suited James just fine.

I think this made Mum shout at Dad. Not that Dad took any notice. Him and James carried on working, left mum brewing pots of tea telling Nana it was a mistake marrying the stubborn idiot and Nana saying Dad was the strong silent type.

I knew what Nana meant. Dad was strong. I remember him throwing bales at my cousin’s head one year like they were made of foam, yelling ‘Catch’. As for silent type? Well, Dad hadn’t spoken to Mum for two weeks after their argument about James so that’s probably what Nana meant.

Maybe Mum got angry with Dad because James copied him so much. After spending all his time working on the tractor, James knew how to change a wheel, could drop from fourth into second because third gear slipped, knew how to check for damage to hoses and clean out the filters, how to top up the battery with water, could plough as well as any farmer twice his age and twice as bloody straight, he could polish the chrome till he saw Dad in the reflection, but he didn’t know what to do when the front axle slipped off its blocks and crushed his ankle against the concrete floor.

He didn’t even know how to scream.

Dad didn’t scream either. He lifted the tractor and pulled him free, took him to hospital, sat with him while they fixed him up.

Afterwards I told people my Dad was the strong type. I said he was strong enough to lift a tractor– but you can’t really measure a strength like that, can you? I mean, how do you measure love?

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