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Ray Bradbury
The Scythe

This is a story that finds possessive lodging in the memory. There is a sense that's unexplainable, mysterious, as if one has seen something inside his heart and mind that is new and most alarming.

Opening this short story is a poor man and his family, out of road, out of gas, and out of food. In a few pages, Drew Erickson, the father, will find that his family is something more than just asleep. They are neither able to live, nor able to die. And at the end of this tale, only the father will remain, and we take leave of him working furiously in a wheat field.

But regard this wheat field with special interest, because a wheat field places prominently in this story as in another remarkable piece by Bradbury: “And the Sailor Home from the Sea.” Those both are very different tellings, it is the wheat fields that mystifies Bradbury, and he wastes no time in expressing it. Where the wheat field in “Sailor Home…” becomes like an inviting sacred sea to which the “sailor” finds himself drawn, the farmer Erickson discovers not the sea, but a strange heritage that fates have picked him to acquire.

Bradbury explodes within the reader a sense of closeness to a reality hardly understood. We sense a passing of its presence and cannot ignore the specter. Again, Bradbury with metaphorical artistry, weaves a pageantry of terror and horror in the quiet guise of simple living, a quiet farmland, and a family in need of a far better tomorrow.

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You can find this story in “The Stories of Ray Bradbury”.
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Eight first stories. 1
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The Women
The Fog Horn
The Smile
The Blue Bottle
The Rocket Man
The Scythe
The Haunting of the New
The Playground