The Red Cotton Picker

To this day, cotton fields lure me still as if in the lull of a dream.

I could see the white cotton fields in the background.  I was amazed by the whiteness of the cotton and the bright green cotton plants.  It always felt good noticing that the cotton plants were not high enough to cover my whole body; it was difficult to breathe when the plants climbed way over my head.  These cotton plants were perfect for picking.

I was standing on the porch in the early morning admiring the perfect cotton fields when I saw a bright red cotton picker drive up and park by the side of the street next to our house.  The cotton picker looked redder because of the starkness of the white cotton that was piled in the back.  I had never seen a red cotton picker; the ones I had seen were all green.

I smiled and breathed a sigh of relief as I noticed my father climb out of the cotton picker cab.  He was such a young man at the age of 27 and he had such a zest for life.  I watched as he walked briskly toward the porch of our house where I stood.

When he approached me I jumped into his arms and asked, "What are you doing here?"

"I'm home from work.  I never left you.  I want to make sure that you understand that you will no longer have to pick cotton in the hot sun.  I have come to take care of you," my dad answered.

I laughed as only a four-year-old can as I was whirled in my father's arms.  I was relieved to discover that he had never left me.  All of my relatives that kept telling me everyday that my dad was never coming back were wrong.  My dad had gone to work and was now back home.

He released me from his arms and I landed on my feet, only to run into the house to tell my mom, sisters and brother that Dad was home.

I felt my heart expand with glee as I saw my mom standing by the doorway looking at my father.  My mom was not smiling; she still had that sad look on her face that had been there ever since Dad had left.  Why wasn't she happy to find out that he was home?

"Mom, look at Dad!  He's home, and he never really left.  He just told me himself.  Everyone else lied to you about Dad.  He's come back to take care of us."

I forced my eyes back from my mom to my dad.

Reality and disappointment entered my heart as I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes at the crack of dawn.

I was reminded that my dad was dead and he was not coming back to me.  I peeked outside the bedroom window to make sure that a red cotton picker was not parked by the side of the road of our house.

I backed away from the window with a deep sadness, then began dressing in my red pants and pink shirt to face one more day of picking cotton in the hot sun.

My dad would not be joining us.

Discussion/Writing Prompts:

1.  What are three symbols in this short story, and what do they represent?  Illustrate these symbols and write about them?

2.  What is the symbolism of the dream itself?  Why is the narrator having this specific dream?

3.  Illustrate a title page for this short story.

4.  What colors are represented as symbols in the story?  What emotions do they represent?  Combine these emotions to colors in a well developed essay.

5.  Write about one of your dreams or illustrate it with captions or subtitles.


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