A short story for Lillie McFerrin's Five Sentence Fiction challenge this week: HARVEST. This isn't your typical harvest but well worth the sowing.
Hamm twisted the final screw with a smile and stood back to look at the trim little cottage, fixed up and freshly white-washed with shutters the color of Bethany’s rosy lips, just as she stepped into the sunlight with her son cuddled in the sling over her shoulder; the baby's wide eyes stared into Hamm’s as if saying – It’s time.
Slow-thinking and thick-tongued, his wit sharp as a sledgehammer, still Hamm knew the babe was right: the neighbors no longer called it ‘bastard’ or Bethany that other awful word (at least not in Hamm’s presence) and she had stopped sobbing in the night from heartbreak and nightmarish memories, so that lately melodic lullabies fell from her smiling lips more often than not.
Whatever foolish lad it was did this to her, Hamm knew it wasn’t Bethany’s fault seeing as how she was not one of those girls who twisted her skirt at drunkards or bedded down in the hay with the Mayor’s boy; no, it was a malevolent deed and if Hamm ever discovered who done it – well, he just hoped his Christian charity didn’t desert him in that hour, though even money said it would.
His Pappy had always said a man would reap what he sowed and so Hamm had sowed this ground with the honest intentions of his heart: sweat to prove his worth, tenderness to garner trust, and what scant coin he had to prove generosity, showering the two of them with his love, simple and coarse though it was, and now, a full set of seasons had turned since he took her in, shamed, trembling and sodden on that rainy night.
Before his courage failed and not knowing what he might reap, Hamm dropped to one knee before her, his large hand digging clumsily in the pocket of his overalls for Mum's gold circlet of promise; the baby was right - it was harvest time, indeed.