THE GOOD EARTH
by Daniel Roest
Cream stepped out onto the old country road outside of the city and bent down to pick up a penny. "A red cent," he thought as he shoved it into his pocket. "Fancy that," and he continued on down the road.
Spring had already begun and life was blooming all around Cream, and he felt a kinship with the earth that he wasn't used to - and it felt good. The clouds in the sky were friendly clouds, and they reminded him of some clouds over the Grand Canyon he had seen once in a picture at school. More pictures flashed momentarily through Cream's mind as he spotted a flock of birds flying in formation, and two gray foxes scampering across the road ahead. He stopped to grab a couple of walnuts off a walnut tree as his mind drifted aimlessly.
Cream had reached his eighteenth birthday two weeks ago. Recently he had wondered what it meant to be eighteen, and what it meant to be a man. His head was filled with fables and television, and he wondered if his friends were as confused as he was. This whole business about growing up seemed very ominous and attractive at the same time. "Oh, if only life were as simple as mathematic principles," he sighed. "No problems."
His hand filtered down through his pocket and pulled out the red cent. And on this beautiful day Cream felt momentarily removed from his surroundings as he glanced down at the penny in his hand. He turned around as a late model Cadillac approached him from the rear and he stuck out his thumb. Cream's hand clutched his penny as the Caddie came to a stop, and he climbed in. The man somehow looked like a banker, and he smelled of cologne. "Are you a banker?" Cream asked as they moved forward.
"No, I'm not," said the man. "I'm a stock broker. I buy and sell stocks. And what do you do?"
"I'm a student," replied Cream, and he wondered why he felt so removed from the man he was sitting next to. His hand still grasped the penny, and after gathering himself he flashed the coin before the eyes of the stockbroker and asked, "Do you know what I can do with this?" He felt a sense of symbolism radiating from his palm.
"Invest it in my business," said the man, who felt its symbolism also. "Stocks. Sell high, make sure you buy low."
Cream was stunned as much as he was fascinated. He remembered his father telling him as a child what it meant to be an adult, and then he felt overwhelmed by his entire childhood. "This is fine," he said as they were crossing Smith's Road, which led up to a large pond. The car came to a halt, and he said thanks as he jumped out. Then Cream ran across Smith's field and through some eucalyptus trees, and he knelt down by the waterhole breathing hard. The air was still and the water calm; a fallen leaf drifted in the sun. Cream's heart slowed down and a smile came over his face. He tossed the coin lightly out into the water and watched it disappear into the stones and algae.