Fiction: Case Study

By Kat Meads

The field of corn is high, the growth still green. In the light morning breeze, the corn barely sways, but when it does the collision of stalk against stalk is gentle, muted: more pat than slap. The birds, what birds there are in the trees and sky, have not this hour fully committed to bird song, preferring to concentrate on scope and glide, observation versus comment. Even the squirrel brigade is sluggish, their chittering minimal. Later perhaps they will work themselves into the screeching frenzy favored by upset squirrels but as of now they and their full-throttle potential are futurity, not active, ongoing noise.
All to say the natural world is not competing, interfering or contributing confusion. In relative quiet, the young woman walks the field path because she wants to walk the field path, alone because she wants to be alone. She is not, and this is heartbreakingly important: she is not yet afraid. She is concentrating on the pleasure of walking on the unmown path, the grass’s mesh and tickle. She is sniffing the air, grateful not to be sneezing. She is rambling for the ramble, daydreaming, content. 
The birds see him; the squirrels see him—that someone hidden by corn. The young woman does not. And yet something, camouflaged by corn, catches her notice. Shading her eyes, she peers down the closest row, calls out hello.
No voice answers but a force lower than wind, as if suddenly invited, begins to thrash through the stalks toward where she stands.
She is a young woman alone in a cornfield. A young woman who will have to trust in human kindness or in her ability to outrun harm, and she will have to decide on a course of action immediately because to wait for all the facts may be to wait too long. 
Try to comprehend what this means. A young woman woke with a simple, reasonable wish: to walk a field path solo. And now we are here.

Kat Meads is the author of multiple books of prose and poetry, including the flash fiction collection Little Pockets of Alarm. She lives in California.