Life As I Know It

Life As I Know It

A Story by CJ Parker
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A laborer in the fields of Bolivia contemplates his life, and why he does what he does

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“Life as I Know It”

Survive.

That’s the only thing I knew how to do right. Survive. I was born into the art. I was taught it from my very first words.

Survive.

S-U-R-V-... uh, what’s that next letter? I could pronounce that word over and over again, but somehow, I couldn’t spell it. My education never consisted of spelling or writing. It was always surviving. My entire life’s existence could be packed into one word. It was the reason for all my actions. Dig a little deeper in order to survive. Pick the fruits faster in order to survive. When I thought about it a little, it was particularly unfair to my family. I slaved hours on end every day, so I could earn less than a meal. Each day, I would travel to a different field, with different men, with different plants, and a different climate, just so my wife, my son Diego, and myself could eat a slice of bread before retiring to our rock-hard beds.
Surviving in Bolivia was the hardest during the summer. The sun would beat down on your naked back every day, burning your skin. If your skin got burned, or you happened to pick up skin cancer, good luck paying a doctor to treat you. When I was young, my papa would take me with him to his jobs so I could learn how to be a laborer. Those first few days, what seemed like years, were brutal. I couldn’t tell the difference between the blood, sweat, and tears that emerged from my body.

“You better get used to it!” my papa used to say.

I never thought I could, but I did; eventually. It took me years of work to get to where I am today. I plod through the muddy fields in order to earn close to one dollar. While the rich people, sitting atop their fancy houses, may think that a dollar is a pitiful amount, to me, a dollar is more than sufficient. Enough of those “dollars”, got Diego a ukulele. That dollar helped my family build a roof over our heads. That one dollar built a bed for my wife and I. I couldn’t live without that one dollar.

While I stand here, plowing the field, I think about the tragedies I will have to pass on to my son, Diego. I will have to teach him how to hoe, how to rake, how to plow. Wait, are those all the same thing? I didn’t know. Diego would have to experience the blood, sweat, and tears all his ancestors had to face. Just the other day, Diego said he wanted to be a lawyer when he grew up. How do I tell him that he’ll never leave this poor field, and his broken shack? I thought. Diego is smart, and he could be whatever he wanted, but only if we had more than this.” I picked up some dirt and threw it. As I threw the dirt in anger, I saw a purple butterfly, flapping its bright blue, beautiful wings. I envied that butterfly right now. I desperately wanted to be free. Free from the harsh conditions of the seasons. Free from this field, where I could go live and be who I always wanted to be; a writer. I created so many stories in my head, but I was too illiterate to write them down; god forbid I have a piece of paper. I envied the butterfly because unlike myself, it had vibrant colors that brightened up the day. I wore an old rag in place of a t-shirt. My pants drooped below my waist because I couldn’t afford a belt. My best protection from the sun was my pequeño hat, and a brown, muddy scarf, wrapped around my neck. I stared at this butterfly for who knows how long, but I was brought to, when a fellow worker of mine screamed.

“Hey, Alberto! Stop slacking off! Get back to work!” I looked over at the shaggy old man, and then dug my hoe back into the hard ground. There was no changing where I was. There was no changing the fact that I would never leave this place and make myself important. Well, that wasn’t necessarily true. I was important to my family, who depended on me for food and shelter.

Stop feeling sympathy for yourself! I thought.

This was my life. I didn’t choose it and neither will my son, but times are hard here. In my town in Bolivia, there was only one word everyone knew.

Survive.

It was the word my son, and his sons, would come to learn. It was something that I didn’t want Diego to accept, even though I already had.

To survive, was life as I knew it.






© 2019 CJ Parker


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Added on May 15, 2019
Last Updated on May 15, 2019

Author

CJ Parker
CJ Parker

Atlanta, GA



About
I am a high school student that enjoys writing short stories in his free time. Most of the time I work on longer old western stories, but I also occasionally write horror and other very short stories more..