The ¼ acre: A journal entry
The road is empty now. School is back in session, so the buses come out early to take the children to class. This is the time when the other traffic ebbs as well. The ground is getting hard and the days shorter. The landscapers put their tools away for the winter. Every now and then you see a pickup truck with the snow plow mounted, but there is isn’t the feel of snow in the air. There won’t be for at least 6 weeks now.
Ethan walks ahead. He says it’s because we shouldn’t be two across on the road during the morning rush. I know that he wants to be alone with his own thoughts. I do too. It’s easier to walk a few yards behind him than right beside him. The sighs and wheezes are barely distinguishable, especially on a windy day when the leaves rattle.
We have walked this stretch of road, day in and day out, for 40 years. The trees were shorter then, and Ethan taller, and the days always felt like they ran out even before they had gotten started.
On our walk there is one part where we go past a stand of old oaks. They grew hundreds of years ago at the intersection of three fields. The farmer — or maybe him and his neighbors — squared off a piece of land with a solid stone fence. Ethan says it’s about ¼ acre. He’s always been curious about who owns the scrap of land. He even had a lawyer look into it once. He’s lost interest in that kind of thing now. If he were to talk about it, he’d probably say that it doesn’t make much sense to grab hold of things when time is slipping away.
If the Ethan I walked with 40 years ago could hear the Ethan I walk with today talk like that about time slipping away, he would scoff and say, “That is a crock of shit.” Today’s Ethan would probably walk a little quicker and say nothing. He would just hide in plain sight.
I want to show the old Ethan how well the oak trees are doing, even today. They’ve weathered a lot of storms, tons of salt flung on the roads, endless months of dry summers, and the reckless destruction that accompanies building house after house after house. The oaks have been unattended and unbothered. They are on land without laws and they have flourished.
Tomorrow I go back to see Dr. Morris. I will bring him this journal. He’ll read my thoughts. I’ll talk to him about the medication. I’ll heard what he has to say.
My equilibrium is better now. That is a quaint notion, but when I went to see him for the first time, I felt like my insides had been torn out. When he asked me what was wrong, I couldn’t utter a sound.
If he asks me tomorrow what is wrong, I’ll be able to tell him something. Or I can tell him that it doesn’t really matter. The answer is simple. I was a fool. A blind, careless, foolish woman.
Ehtan stopped at the oak tree this morning and looked to me.
“I’m not going to take the whole walk today. I’m going to go back in a few minutes.”
Now I know not to go back follow him back. I did that one time to check on him. He did not hear me come in. He was in the kitchen leaning against the counter with his pants around his ankles. He was holding his cock in his hands. The sack of his balls was like chicken wattle, and the veins in his hand were like a spider web wrapped around his groin, but the head of his cock was pink and swollen, like a teardrop. The phone was on speaker and some sultry voice was whispering over and over, Come for me baby.
He didn’t see me. I’m glad that he didn’t because I felt sad and didn’t want him to feel sad too. That pink teardrop was once so firm and warm, and I’d want to pull it inside me and close my eyes so hard I saw stars.
I don’t want to feel worried every day. If that is what my life is going to be like, I just want to end it. I can’t stop worrying. I know that it is all going to come to an abrupt, startling close. Before it does, I just want to feel free and happy again. I want to hear my heart sing. I want Ethan to smile at me. I want him to lean against the counter and yank at his flaccid cock like a fire crew pulling the hose out to a three-alarm fire, and then I want our eyes to meet and for us to laugh, just laugh and laugh and laugh at the crazy beauty of it all.
Dr. Morris and his pills can’t give me that, but I don’t want to start hoping for that feeling to go away.