Several jennies pecked at the ground, picking up stray kernels. The big tom strutted around his harem spitting at Lindy, his tail feathers spread wide, his waddle shaking from his loud drumming, all a display of dominance and aggression. He didn’t like having an intruder in his territory.
Lindy ignored him and continued throwing feed on the ground. The Almanac was calling for a cold snap and her achy joints were telling her snow was coming. The gang needed to eat before they got cooped up for a long winter.
Her basket almost empty, Lindy flicked the remaining kernels of corn at tom, pinging them off his gnarled, red-skinned head. Ducking the missiles, tom warbled another warning but kept his distance.
The last seed, a black kernel, stuck in the woven basket’s coils. Lindy picked it out and held in between her thumb and forefinger, the basket tucked under her arm.
Rolling the kernel around in her fingers, Lindy studied it. An ordinary seed, nothing remarkable except for its significance.
It was the last lie he told. The worst one, the blackest one. The one where he said she was unlovable, that it was Lindy’s fault she would forever be alone.
She spread those lies. Weaving in among the growing corn stalks in the field behind her farmhouse, she murmuring each lie like a prayer. Purging her heart and soul of the pain, squeezing out each hurtful insult in her sweat, Lindy nurtured her crop.
It grew tall and bore plentiful fruit, sweet and tender. She separated out the most beautiful cobs in the harvest, letting them dry to hard kernels in the warm Indian Summer sun.
Once shelled, Lindy culled out the chaff and husks, saving the perfect kernels to feed her fowl.
As she spread the fodder for her hens and tom, Lindy recounted each lie he told her, and she saw her flock grow fat. They would be plump and juicy, ripe for roasting come November.
This last kernel she kept. A terra-cotta pot stood sentinel on her porch. Filled with rich, dark dirt, she hollowed out a small hole and dropped in the black nugget. With cupped hands, she covered the kernel and gently patted down the dirt. She scooped handfuls of rainwater from a barrel at the corner of the house and poured it over the planted kernel.
A bright green shoot would one day soon break through the earth, reaching upward toward the sky, seeking rain and light. Lindy would care for it and tenderly encourage it to grow. When it was hand-high, she would take it to his new house, planting it outside his bedroom window, behind the lilac bush.
Over time, the stalk would work its way under the roof eaves and in-between the clapboard siding, invading the walls. That black lie would worm its way into his new life and love, whispering doubt into the darkness that was his heart.
Lindy found her happiness, free from that hard, black kernel of a lie. She found a new truth, and it was the color of sunshine.