No welcome in the barley

Katie had spent much of the morning in the field, walking up and down the tractor lines amid acre upon acre of swirling barley. The wind was light, so the song of the power lines was mute beneath their steady crackle.

The barley usually calmed her, calling to her innermost being, life singing to life. Today, though, she kept finding herself trasported back to the sensory spheres at the Centre, of the images they used to keep her mind off their intimate probing.

She’d pushed those images aside all morning, trying to touch the crop with her soul. Today, though, it wasn’t interested. It taunted her instead; “Not alive,” it said with every breath of wind, “not human.”

By lunch time, she’d given up and returned home. She left a note for her parents and got on her bike. It wasn’t far to Cynthia’s. Cynthia, at least, would appreciate her company, and the whole gang had arranged to go to the cinema that evening. She’d not have to be home before midnight.

She pedalled down the driveway without looking back.

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