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Chit by Ted Naughton

We worked in two rows. Our father dug up spuds in dress trousers, the big yellow tubers encrusted with bog navy earth surrounding him. He wanted to look smart for the people we had borrowed the strip of land from. His black slip-on shoes caught the rays of the evening sun. Still shiny.

Barry worked alongside our father, forking up the leafy plump plants out of the ground then heaving them towards us, their bulbs of potatoes bouncing against each other.

I thought they were beautiful. Delicious. My mother and I picked them up, ripped off the leaves and threw them in our buckets. The plants with their purple and yellow flowers were already limp, already dying.

My mother was tight lipped as she worked - stiff with difficulty, but also with intent. Efficient.

The buckets were soon overflowing; with nowhere else to go, the thrown potatoes rolled and bounced around them on the ground.

Barry dropped his fork and ran to the open boot of the car. He grabbed a handful of empty paper sacks, wordlessly flinging them at our mother and I as he went past us.

He reached down, picked up his fork, and unearthed more spuds in a slow showy arc of return. Dad smirked at him. My mother paused almost imperceptibly; she straightened her crooked back, watching both of them, then quickly glanced at me.

I carried on working but I saw the look on her face. Was it pity? Was it love? Was it her compassion or was it her fear for me I saw? But I saw it.

As the next spud came flying towards us, I caught it, flecks of earth spattering my face.

And I just flung it back at my brother as hard as I could, with a fury that I didn’t know I had, fury that was heavy and swollen like a spud.

My brother’s jaw dropped, my father’s fork fell. But I was gone. I knew how the car started despite my dad not bothering to show me.

"Maryanne’s not interested in driving," he would say in front of me. But his Maryanne knew how to drive.

So I ran and jumped in and hit the ignition and swung the gears into reverse. I must have mashed 20 or 30 honey-coloured potatoes back deep into the ground they came from as I revved the engine exactly as I watched my dad do. The lid of the unlocked boot bobbed up and more spuds launched themselves into space.

My brother’s grimy fingernails were almost at my throat. But I had flicked the gearstick and the car lurched forward and smacked the tarmac like a fat sweaty arse. I was free. Bye.

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