The Box Children, by Sharon Wyse
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Wednesday, June 1, 1960

Picture of Sharon Wyse

I can put my eyes just at the top of the wheat and see the world stretch out flat to the sky. All around me is the land we farm. I can see a cloud of dust that I know is Daddy on the red tractor in the field on one side of the house. My brother is on a green tractor on the other side. They plow the ground where no wheat is planted this year. After a rain the weeds start to grow and you have to plow them up fast before they take hold. There is one kind called bindweed that takes over everything no matter how many times you plow. The only way to get rid of it is to poison deep down. You have to just kill the whole field, then wait until it's safe again for something to live there. It can take years.

Back at the house Mother is sewing me another dress. She makes perfect dresses but she hates to sew. I feel it when she fits the pattern to my chest. Her sharp fingers dig the thin paper into my side and she sets her lips to hold the pins tight between them. She is fierce in her sewing. She makes the machine tear through my new dress, faster, faster. It will be done soon and time to try it on so she can mark the hem. Stand still! she will say. She sticks me if I move.

The wheat is yellow-green, almost ripe. If I took out walking east, away from the house, I'd get to Oklahoma pretty quick. It's only seven miles, but walking through the wheat would not be easy or fun. There's no path and the wheat is scratchy from my ankles all the way up to my chest. Still, I think about it.

Mother says to be happy with what I've got. It's true that our family is better than most. We have a mother, a daddy, and two children: one boy, one girl. We are all smart but not too smart for our own good. The daddy goes to church every week with the family instead of staying home or only going on Christmas and Easter. The children mind and never talk back. The only place we ever get in trouble is at home.

What you are reading is my diary.

I have started it just to see what will happen. I will have to be careful. Mother hunts through my room all the time to make sure I'm not hiding things from her. Her rule is Never write anything down because you never know who will see it. That rule won't work for me. I want to write everything down and I want people to see it. Not her, but other people. People I don't know yet.

I have saved up some tracing paper and some pages from a drawing tablet my cousins in Oklahoma gave me when we visited them at Christmas. I have almost half of a spiral notebook left over from fifth grade, which I'm no longer in. Also, one of my jobs is taking out the trash and I can probably find things that will do for writing paper there too, before I burn it all up.

There's an upside-down barrel behind the bunkhouse, out by the junkpile where nobody ever goes. I found two big flat rocks that I have put under the barrel. I can put my diary papers on top of one rock and use the other rock to hold them down, then cover it all with the barrel.

Harvest is only a few weeks away. Until then my writing place is right here in the wheat. The ground is hard dirt and there are black beetles crawling. My plan is to come here and write every afternoon when I finish the noon dishes. Mother expects me quiet while she drinks a beer and takes her nap. Once I woke her up and she yanked me right off the floor by my ears. Now I stay outside until she rings the dinner bell to get me back.

My name is Lou Ann Campbell. I am almost twelve years old. Wish me luck!