Friday, June 23, 2006

Entry #15

"The Question"
By Phil Eggman


The question is always there, always present. I am talking about the secret question we all ask ourselves at one point or another.

“Why do we die?” I asked my dad at grandma’s funeral.

“Everything dies, son,” Dad whispered softly.

But the question is not so much 'why', but 'how', and more importantly, 'when'?

I had my answer today. I did not expect it.

You never do.

I started my day as I always do – morning coffee, short shower, quick shave, work clothes on, tie my boots, kiss wife goodbye, grab tools and out the door. I made the commute to work and ignored the news while the wipers on my windshield swished back and forth.

I thought about the new patio I wanted to put in. I wondered when my son would come home from the Iraq. My knee hurt from yesterday’s job out on Highway 67.

I climbed the last pole, my 16th for the day, strapped on my safety belt but I was in a hurry. I was cold and it was raining hard and I made the mistake of not making sure my safety strap was securely in place. I was thinking about everything else but my work when I leaned back on the tool belt and it came undone.

It was too late to grab the pole or anything with my hands.

I fell backward.

[Phil Eggman was born and raised in rural California before joining the military out of high school. He traveled the world as a Navy photojournalist for 27 years. He currently serves as the public information officer for USDA Rural Development for Washington State, with a heavy emphasis on photography and graphic design. Phil has a Bachelor of Science degree in communications and is currently working on his graduate degree in Cultural Semiotics. He has seven children and two grandchildren and lives in the Tacoma area.]

14 comments:

September said...

Philip, that was interesting. you got me from the start with the innocence of a child asking the all-too-common question at the funeral

So, you died after falling - answering how and when. But it is that "why" that remains unanswered. There are always unanswered questions.

good writing.

Esther

Flood said...

You know, I always worried about workers on bridges or phone poles or what have you. I bet they think about this kinda thing a lot.

Anthony J. Rapino said...

Nice. As a dark-lit writer, I can really appreciate the ending.

Scott said...

I think that most people who do dangerous work don't really think about dying all that much. That would be crippling. Interesting bit about the son in Iraq, which had me worrying down a false trail. Good stuff.

Bhaswati said...

The absolute uncertainty of death is captured so well in this piece.

I had my answer today. I did not expect it.

You never do.


How true.

Jaye Wells said...

I agree with Bhaswati. Things we don't want to think about, but always do.

Jer said...

Such wonderful details about his life, then SPLAT! Makes a good story.

desiderata said...

Good eye-opener, glad you came back to tell the tale!

I also think of death -- not so much of the physical kind, but of friendships. As sad. Glad I also find nu'e ones, many via the Internet, yes, through Xchanging bizarre, but through, stories.:)

Jim said...

Death made all the more tragic for the unromantic way in which it happens. All too typical of the way it is in life.

bekbek said...

I'm completely caught by the way he falls backward. You start with a childhood memory of a funeral, of perhaps the first time he considers the question of death. And then at the end he falls backward, back to that question.

It's some lovely punctuation.

Phil Eggman said...

To all - thanks for the comments. Actually, Ester inspired this piece. She had informed me last year that my cousin had died so the thought of that last instant of life kind of stuck. Our minds are protected, I think, from the possiblity of death, and it takes a death of someone close to bring those thoughts to the surface. Everyone starts out their day without thinking it would be their last.

Amra Pajalic said...

Love the story. Great characterisation, tension and ending.

JLB said...

Well written! I love how an image of night has inspired stories of death from so many of us!

jason evans said...

Phil, elegantly simple in structure. That is more powerful than loaded language. Your pacing and sense of storytelling in the 2nd half were superb. A high scorer!