I woke up to flashing and flickering lights. I looked out the window and saw the tree was on fire. I ran outside, turned on the hose, and sprayed the tree with water. The fire didn’t dim. I kept watering.

The flames were intense. But I noticed the tree wasn’t being hurt. It was like the tree was emanating a massive scrambling halo.

I shut off the water. I got really close to the tree. I put my hand in the fire. I didn’t get burned. I hugged the tree. The flames were warm.

I backed away from the tree. The flames engulfed me. I ran around my backyard and the flames trailed off me like a cape. I called myself Fireman.

A raccoon, opossum, a family of mice, and a badger ran skipping behind me.

I got tired and lay down on the grass. The animals ran back and forth over me, squealing their sounds.

I fell asleep.

I woke up in the morning. The flames were gone. Even though I was just wearing a night shirt, and my skin and clothes were covered with dew, I felt warm.

Giving the eye

Giving the eye

I dug a hole. I got in and sat down. I liked the coolness of the earth. The silence was profound.

A crow landed on the edge of the hole. The crow said, “What are you doing?” I said I was taking it easy. The crow said, “Are you tired?” I said I wasn’t.

The crow said, “Do you see any worms?” I said I didn’t. I did see some worms. Three actually. But I didn’t want harm to come to them.

The crow said, “Are you sure?”

I said I was.

The crow gave me the eye. That’s their specialty. Plenty folk fold in on themselves and do a crow’s bidding when they get the eye.

I looked at the space between the crow’s eyes. It’s something my dad taught me. He said it’s a way to meet someone’s gaze when you think it might be too much. It keeps you from looking away.

The crow was overcome by my stare. It looked away and flew off.

One of the worms said, “Thanks, that was very kind of you.”

I said, “No one wants to be anyone’s lunch.”

The duck and its needs

The duck and its needs

There was a knock at the door. I answered it. A duck looked up. I asked what it wanted. The duck asked why I hadn’t been to the lake tossing the bread crumbs. I said I’d been busy. The duck asked what I’d been doing. I said I’d been doing a lot of things.

The duck asked me if I had breadcrumbs. I said I had bread. The duck asked if he could have some. I asked if he wanted it plain, or with peanut butter. The duck’s eyes lit up and he said with peanut butter. I asked the duck to wait.

I went into the kitchen. I came back with a plate of two slices of peanut butter bread. I set the plate on the ground. The duck looked up and said thanks.

I closed the door. I sat down at my desk and wrote about what happened.

There was a knock at the door. I got up and answered. It was the duck. He had finished the meal. He asked me what I was doing. I said I was writing about my encounter with him. He asked if he could read it. I invited him in.

He read what I’d written. He asked if I would add the part about him coming in and reading the story. I said yes.

The building that was

The building that was

The building was gone. It was there a moment ago. I had been standing outside the building, washing the ground floor windows. In mid-wipe the building was no more.

No traces remained. Not even marks on the ground. In its place was a plum tree. There were ripe plums. I ate one.

Someone came by and asked about the building. They said they had an appointment in the building. I said I didn’t know where it went. The told me again about their appointment and asked me what to do. I suggested they eat a plum. They said they didn’t like plums.

The rabbit and the balloon

The rabbit and the balloon

A balloon moved quickly across the field. A rabbit chased after it. The rabbit said, “Hey balloon!” The balloon said, “I can’t talk now.” The rabbit said, “Where you headed?” The balloon said, “I’m sorry, I’m in a hurry.” The rabbit said, “Can I come with you?” The balloon didn’t answer.

The balloon flew into the woods. The rabbit stopped. The rabbit was nervous. It looked at the balloon as it moved through the trees. The rabbit called out to the balloon, “Hey!” The balloon kept on its way. The rabbit said, “Wait for me!”

Suddenly there was a popping sound. The rabbit said, “Balloon, are you okay?” There was silence. The rabbit said, “Balloon?” Nothing.

With great fear the rabbit hopped into the woods. The rabbit looked around in terror. It called out, “Balloon, it’s me, rabbit. Are you alright?” Quiet. The rabbit moved forward, sniffing the air for a whiff of the balloon. The rabbit said, “Where are you?”

There was a flapping sound. The rabbit moved cautiously in its direction.

The rabbit came upon the balloon, flat, torn, and stuck on a jagged branch. The rabbit said, “Balloon, balloon, are you okay?!” A wind flapped the limp balloon against the branch.

The rabbit leapt and pulled the balloon down gently with its mouth, and laid it flat on the forest floor. The rabbit got near the balloon and whispered, “I’m so sorry, balloon.”

The rabbit looked up at the sound from the tree above. An owl had alighted from a branch and was diving towards the rabbit. The rabbit grabbed the balloon in its mouth and ran back towards the field.

The rabbit looked back as the owl reached its outstretched claws towards the rabbit. The owl’s talons got caught in the shredded balloon. The owl was distracted and ran into a tree. The owl lay unconscious on the ground.

The rabbit was shaking as it hopped to the owl and untangled the balloon from its claws The rabbit moved quickly through the woods with the balloon lightly in its mouth, saying, “It’s going to be okay!” The rabbit shot back into the field, and then down into its lair.

The rabbit set the balloon down on the straw bed. The balloon lay still and silent. The rabbit said, “You’re safe now. I’ll protect you.”