(Bernita's Weirdly Contest is running until midnight Friday, December 14, 2007. Folks are competing for a signed anthology contained her published short story, "Stone Child." Here is my entry (limit of 250 words) based on the picture she posted of blasted oaks in Sherwood forest. Be sure to check out the other contest entries!)
TREE OF LIFE
by Jason Evans
The man listened to the breaths. They hitched and struggled as the evening light cooled.
"I remember the day we came here. I was eight. It was the first time I fought with you. The first time I let myself get mad."
The breaths relaxed again and smoothed.
"You said I was fishing wrong. I wanted to do it my way, so I threw the rod and stomped off. I was ridiculous, but you let me go. You didn't chase me."
Outside the window, the lake rippled with the last glow of day.
"If we weren't out here, I could do it myself. That's what kills me."
The breathing thinned.
A breeze stirred.
"You know, the first catheterization I did, the blood vessels on the monitor reminded me of that book. The one you read to me about the trees of Sherwood forest. So many tiny twigs at the end of crooked branches. When I fed the catheter through the heart, I imagined climbing those trees. I still think of that. Another cardiologist thinks of rivers. He likes to fish like you."
The clock chimed.
When it finished, the ticking was huge and alone.
"I called you that night. You sounded so proud of me."
A siren lifted over the silence. Dr. Paul opened the door to tires crackling on gravel. The paramedics were shimmering color smeared on bare trees.
They ran toward his father stretched on the lake house floor.
Dr. Paul held out his hand. "He's already gone."