Saturday 18 June 2022

'Widow-Maker' by Mara Buck

Dying didn’t hurt as much as I’d thought. One quick ouch, like detaching a bandaide. Probably different for everyone. Maybe I’m lucky, but you can’t exactly say that, because I am, after all, dead.  

And I find myself here.   

The pinesap drizzling through my fingers smells pungent, urgent, fresh as morning. How can I smell when my face is obliterated, buried under the tonnage of this tree that killed me? Death seems to defy logic.

Ultimately my fault, taunting danger like Hemingway running with the bulls—my personal claim to manhood a rusty chainsaw versus a giant pine. Now I’m thinking the bulls might’ve been a better idea. Too late and a dollar short, Grandpa used to say.

Grandpa would’ve never gotten into this mess. No existentialist crap for him.

“Writer? You?” He’d have revved-up the equipment for another go-round. “Sonny, you always been puny. All them books. No wonder you can’t handle a man’s work.” Grandpa’s voice shared a constant mechanical accompaniment, like strumming a banjo while singing a folk song. He smelled of oil, stale coffee, and staler tobacco; I worshipped the rugged soil under his boots. I’m wearing his work jacket right now. Can’t say it’s brought me luck.

Widow-makers—tricky trees like this gnarly pine that’ll catch a guy off-guard to misjudge his cut. I’m leaving no widow behind, no one to mourn since Grandpa’s already gone.

You’d think now I’m dead I could hear him hoot about this predicament I got myself involved in, except I’m alone under this damn tree.  

I’ve got all this evolving knowledge about death and no one to share it. A writer’s dream, an exclusive story, a sure-fire page-turner. But I’m silent and I suspect it’s a permanent condition.   

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