There were red monkeys dangling from the chandelier. Outside on Route 112, in a moisty dark reminiscent of sycamore trees, a single car could be heard droning on for miles. He worried about the firefly population this year, counting their soft green explosions of light while the water boiled for tea. In "the holler," a demented rooster tried its voice, waking up even his wife, who complained of the heat.
When the tea was ready he sweetened it with maple syrup. There was a sense of doom that accompanied him, had always accompanied him. Or was it crisis. He hates the sound of the word "crisis," but what if it's right? A sense of bodies flailing painfully, of vague large shapes tumbling down overhead. Perhaps what he likes about the fireflies is what he said years ago to Jesse in Winooski when he still drank: before birth is a mystery, after death is a mystery, this life is just a little flare between two darknesses.
And so he looks for what will save him. The twenty sentences will not, though they do bear him up. Images alone cannot do it - the man pushing a lawnmower over his lawn, across the street, across the neighbor's lawn, through the bracken to the next yard, then to the next street, and down that street. All the way into a new life. Which almost certainly resembles the one left behind. "There is no escape" is not as frightening as it sounds.
The tea is good. It is always that way, suprisingly so. The presence of his wife, rubbing his shoulder, saying yes, is a comfort. Later he will be surprised by gifts that his kids worked on the day before. There is also a blossoming, an opening, and welcome.
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