September 6, 2013 by The Citron Review
by Beth Keefauver
You want to know how and I’ll tell you, but it doesn’t matter. Twelve days of rain. A tree fell across the front porch and blocked the door to my house. I was alone. We heroes now are always alone. I’d never used a chainsaw before, but what? I could be stuck inside, or I could be stuck outside.
I climbed on top of the roof and pulled the chain. A weapon like that went to my head. I started with the small branches, severed them all, one after another. The smell of split pine, the shock of white splinters made me insatiable. I lost sight of clearing the doorway and relished the gnaw, the flying dust, the annihilation.
I fell. That’s how it happened. You know this story. I fell, and the earth knocked the wind from my diaphragm–which in the old sense also means mind. I dissipated into the earth, expanded and dissolved through the tree roots and cloudless sky, into the rotting porch swing and the complaining song of its rusty chains, into the dog shit and forgotten burrows of cicada nymphs sleeping beneath it, into the tires kissing the road’s wetness, into the cat stretching across the windowsill, into the cosmos. Immortality! Everything at once, at all times.
I was sad when I woke. The pain in my back and neck was real. Real, too, were the medics in their black uniforms, the flashing lights and diesel engines left running in the driveway, the neighbor whose name I’d forgotten, who waved from the mower but never spoke, now sharing the most intimate details of my life–my name, my age, my address, my marital status.
We heroes now, we are lost. Our purpose ambiguous, unvoiced, lost among so much noise, noise, noise! We are breathless and walk among you. We may already be dead.
Beth Keefauver has taught creative writing at Warren Wilson College, Lenoir-Rhyne University, Western Carolina University, and University of Tennessee, where she earned her PhD in English and Creative Writing. Her fiction has appeared in Stirring, Pisgah Review, Blue Lotus Review, Press 53 Blog, and is forthcoming in two anthologies. She is a former fiction editor of Grist. Beth lives near Asheville, NC with her husband, two sons, and cat.