The Passed Note Issue 1 June 2016 - Page 13

rebuilding tractor engines and tinkering around with old pickups they aren’t quite ready to scrap.

“Thanks,” I tell Penny, resisting the urge to pluck her thumb from her mouth. Penny’s set to follow in her family’s footsteps, riding horses after school and on weekends. By the time she’s my age her bedroom will be plastered with blue ribbons, same as her sisters who’ve already gone off to college but left their rooms decorated exactly as they were. Because they always come back. It’s embedded in the Bailey DNA.

I crunch my way through the snowy grass to the tractor barn and haul one of the doors open. I’m immediately hit with the smell of dirty metal, like I just stuck my nose in a change purse. Old tractor parts are piled up along the walls and spare tires are stacked higher than the top of my head.

Donny spots me first. Putting down the wrench he’d been twirling around his finger, he calls, “Macy Parade!”

After seventeen years, I’ve given up fighting it. My parents got engaged at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York. Everyone thought naming me Macy was precious, but I hated people defining me by someone else’s love story. They took me to the Thanksgiving parade when I was eleven, but I got elbowed and shoved and even lost my parents in the crowd for a second. I’ve been claustrophobic ever since.

My father and uncle are crouched by a John Deere. Dad strides over and hugs me, but Uncle Jack just waves. He prefers tractors and horses to people.

“I hit the hole.” It takes all my pride to keep eye contact with my cousin as he laughs. He’s Uncle Jack’s oldest son, a part-time community college slacker who claims he still lives at home to help out with the horses even though I’ve never seen him ride one in my life. It kills me because, out of our three families, Uncle Jack’s is the only one rich enough to put the kids through college without a ton of loans. And Donny just stays where he is.

“Smooth,” he finally says.

“How bad is it?” Dad asks.