The mud puddle had appeared in the apple orchard in the morning, right before the farmer had gone to church. By the time he’d returned, it was nearly twenty feet wide, and it had pulled some of his trees below.
He didn’t dare get too close to it. The beetle-brown water churned as if the Devil himself was rising from its depths, and he felt light-headed even when he was a distance away.
By the afternoon, it had grown wider and now threatened his barn.
If he didn’t do something, it’d overtake it soon, and then it was only a sinner’s length from his house.
He picked up some good-sized boulders from the pile in his field, carried it over with his John Deere, and dropped them in. They disappeared in with barely a ripple, so he grabbed some more, and they disappeared too. The futility of the whole endeavour stung, so he slunk away and holed up in his home to passages of Nehemiah before falling asleep.
The following day, his barn and tractor were gone, and the mud-hole was at the steps of his home. His cattle had disappeared, but he wasn’t sure if they’d run off in fear or if they’d gotten too close and slipped below. He didn’t wish to stay around and find out.
He went inside, grabbed a sack and shoved all the food he could and packed a trunk full of clothes and personal belongings and pulled it out the back door. By the time he went to grab his shotgun, the front porch had ripped off and was sucked down.
He sat in the dirt of his driveway for the next half hour, watching all that he’d worked for across the years slip into the depths, and that’s when he heard the singing.
They came from the mud, like the baritone voices he’d heard on the radio singing opera, but they sounded garbled, and the words were indecipherable. Like a wild animal letting out a melodic cry as it drowned.
They made him angry. Not at their sound or the hole or how he lost all his belongings.
They made him mad at the world. Mad at his neighbours who still had a home and mad at the minister whose church stood safely on the hill. They thought they were safe and distant and high from harm, but the farmer knew better.
But he had the power to make things right. To make things equal and all he had to do was sing with the rest of the voices.
He felt the song rise in his throat and could barely stand before it burst forth. He sang louder and more passionately than any time he had in church, and he sang until his lungs ached and his eyes wept with tears. He sang to the heavens and the depths of the earth, and he rose to meet the others in song.
It was only when the mud ran into his mouth that he realized his mistake. He’d fallen for the siren song, but by then, he didn’t care because he understood their words, and his voice intertwined with theirs, and they sang as one.
And now they could all share their song with others—his neighbours, the church and, the congregation.
And then they could share it with the world.