A Tree Behind Our Old House

My brother and I disagree. We drive past the house we left thirty eight years before. Out in the sunken backyard stands a tree. He says it’s the same one we knew as kids. I remember that one being taken down. He says, a new tree couldn't grow so tall so soon. But thirty eight years, I say. We drive past. Forgotten in the back seat, my mother doesn’t remember a tree, the house, the backyard, and barely recognizes her sons. She struggles to remember the man who knew these things. Tries to remember that life, the solid feeling that things don’t change. But death has always followed her. She looks through the windshield, past my brother’s angry silence, but can’t really see the intersection ahead. I hear a voice say that none of us can know how fast or slow a tree might grow up or why it ever falls. 

The World Ends

When the world ended I was more than a little pissed off. I hadn't been to Spain. Hadn't seen the Grand Canyon. Hadn't read the book waiting on hold for me at the library. And I was right in the middle of a phone call. A woman on the line was about to say something important. I could tell. Then the world ended. Now what? No more Spain. No canyons, grand or otherwise. No phone calls. No woman on the line. I don't even know who I am any more. So I'll call myself Billy, a name I've always liked. It's friendlier than I am. Hopeful. The world doesn't end for a guy like Billy. He's in Spain talking on his phone with a woman standing at the rim of the Grand Canyon. Reception is clear and perfect. She's telling him about a book she just read. It's waiting on hold for him at the library. But take your time, she says. It's not like the world's going to end any time soon. And they laugh and laugh.