He reached the tractor. He tapped on it—he rubbed it with the palm of his hand. He whispered to it. He smelled it. The farmer stepped inside and started the ignition. He moved the lever northward—the tractor’s claw slit the land open and dug in. The farmer moved the lever southward—the tractor’s claw pulled up with a tongue full of dirt. The farmer steered the tractor westward and dumped the soil. He flexed his muscles—the claw extended and retracted.
The farmer worked throughout the night with Anna Louise. He laughed and gestured. He petted his tractor. The tractor toiled—lifting land and letting it go. It moved in all directions: southward, northward, eastward, westward, NNE, SSW, and ESE. It moved in straight lines. It moved in circles—its tires no longer shiny and black. Its claw plunged into the earth one last time. The farmer got out and stood over the hole. He looked in and measured its depth. He looked at the tractor. He looked at the hole.
The farmer got into the tractor and steered it into the hole. It fell with the claw hitting the bottom first, making a clank. The front window cracked open, and the farmer was halfway through. There was blood on his face, and there were scrapes on his hands and elbows. The farmer pulled himself out and grabbed his hat. He climbed onto the back of the tractor and made his way back onto leveled land. He tucked his shirt into his jeans.
He rubbed the back of his neck and coughed. He felt his ribs. The tears from his eyes stung the cuts on his face. He fixed his hair and put his hat back on. The farmer had his rifle—he pointed it downward, into the hole, and shot three times. He closed his eyes and murmured. The farmer had his shovel and he put the land back in its place, covering Anna Louise. Bit by bit, eventually, there was a mound. The farmer patted it and smoothed it out.
There was a rooster’s crow—the sun was rising; the farmer refused to look at it. He put his back to it, and knelt down on the mound. He faced the soil. He kissed the earth. The air was pink and purple behind him.