Sitting in my wheelchair the wind is blowing all around me. No matter which direction I turn myself my hair blows into my eyes. It lets up a little, long enough to hear the faint sound of crackling. Chipping away at the bark is a small rodent with a bushy tail. Tree rats they call them in these parts and there are even recipes to prepare them. Personally, I would never eat one. I prefer my food not to have a face that I have seen. I would sooner take them for pets. Eating squirrel seems a little too back-woods for me and a little “dueling banjo” come to mind with a “squeal like a pig” for good measure. I am not from these parts. I fear the idea a little more than perhaps is reasonable since I live here now. At least I will live here for the next thirty six seconds.
The wind picks up and I start to sneeze, closing my eyes I actually enjoy this split second of a cool breeze with a hint of cut grass and rain in the warm air, signaling the end of summer. Fall is lovely here but never without a little anxiety because of the impending winter and autumn is just around the corner. This weekend is its preview. I keep my eyes closed and force my mind to my favorite season summer. It is summer still and I will not let that go easily. Yet the wind is getting stronger and stronger but I am just not interested in moving or opening my eyes. I hear a snap but I choose to ignore it. Everything changes in that moment. I no longer care about winter’s arrival, breezes or summer’s end. I feel a rush of blood and a gasp of wind expels from my mouth like lava blowing the top off of a mountain. There is a branch sticking out of my chest. It has hurled down from my walnut tree.
I open my eyes and examine the branch with its wrinkled bark, leaves jetting in every direction and walnuts hanging on like Christmas ornaments. I am not displeased. I really do not notice that the leaves are shiny on one side and matte on the other. Perhaps something I might have noticed if the branch wasn’t protruding from my chest. The walnuts are the same lime green color as the shirt I am wearing. My crimson flow is dripping into my lap. It is a nice compliment to my newly acquired ensemble. My skewered heart is sticking out of my back and smashed into the back of my chair. I hear my last beat inside my inner ear and it fades inside my throat. My pupils gained strength at impact but narrow at release.
The vision that belonged to my shell is leaving and moving elsewhere. I am sitting in a sea of transparency on the branch next to the squirrel. He eyes me no longer with suspicion but with understanding. He fully understands where I am and where I have come from. He is happy for me and grateful that I never considered him a food source. Leaving my perch, I slip into my home to see its inhabitants. They are not yet aware of my presence there. Through the window I see my former self, the shell I once was with its head dangling from its neck, eyes wide open without a look of fear or pain. Expressionless really, not happy, not scared, not anything just finished with a broken body. Relief comes over me in waves and I feel a new deeper sense of being without a physical form. Yet, I am still Herbert and I am content.