The Big Trees

Ruby crouched in the dirt between the tomato plants, the heavy green scent of them all around her, and pulled a clover-colored caterpillar off a baby tomato. She palmed it, ignoring its wriggling in her hand, and plucked another before dropping them in the bucket between her soil-crusted feet.

Sweat stung her eyes, and she pulled the back of her arm across her forehead, then winced at the grime left behind. It was hot out here for long sleeves, but the hairs on the tomato plants always made her itch.

The low voice of Dewie’s coon dog sounded from somewhere up the road, and dogs joined in bit by bit from all around. Even old Orange, stiff as he was, crawled out from the hollow he’d dug under the porch and gave a few lazy barks.

The back of her neck tingled, and she twisted to look at the Big Trees. The twelve oaks clustered so tightly they looked like a single tree from way back here, textured trunks leaning together striped with darker shadow under the layered canopy.

Orange growled.

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