Friday, May 19, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

When the light through the window stops shining, you will die. Until then, you can squint your eyes. Close them. Let the light come red through your eyelids. Pretend you're at the beach. You came here for a reason, so let us our job. We can do the deed and the cleanup. Your loved ones will never know the truth - that you chose to leave them. 

Consider this blessing. Think about how fortunate you are to live in a time when technology can take care of your ... problems. For you. Let it serve you. You might feel like you've been here for a million years, but it was only a blip. Only a century since we swapped out synapsses and organs. You've had an excellent run. That should comfort you.

Don't be selfish. You think you can't die ... that there would be ... ramifications.

But we can fix all that!

Besides, you signed the contract and sold the rights to your leaving. You will air for the first time at 9pm. Every set except those owned by your family will broadcast your departure. You will be honored for your sacrifice. 

Someone has to keep everyone entertained. 


  1. Very Logan's Run-ish. That's the first place my mind went.

    That rabbit hole took me wondering if I could monetize a live stream of my future death. At least make enough $$$ to cremate or bury me. And which would pay more—a suicide or murder?

    This all hinges upon my departure occurring in an Assisted Suicide state. Would being a voluntary murder victim qualify as an assisted suicide? Would someone pay to murder me? I'm sure there's one or two volunteers out there...

    1. Definitely put me in the mind of Logan's Run. Really good, biting.

  2. Even the trees are breaking. Brittle from the weight of the world, from wind and rain and drought and blight, bits of them rattle to the ground. From chips of bark to old unshed leaves to twigs and branches and sometimes, the sad whole of them uproots and faceplants, shaking the world. You explore one in your irregular regular walkabouts, remembering doing the same as a child, turning over a rotted log or a stone just to see the industry underneath, to watch the ants and beetles and worms scramble in the sudden light. You’re older now and know the good work they do, of turning a poor fallen tree first into a habitat and then into new soil. You know how life goes on. You pat the roughened bark; you feel as brittle as the trees, and know in your thinning bones that one day you’ll be part of all of this, the cycle of all those chemicals you learned in high school—nitrogen, oxygen, carbon, et cetera. But for now you’re the guardian of this small ecosystem, and you call on those who have more expertise and equipment and youth than you to nod and evaluate and measure, to tell you which can be put out of their misery and which can be put out of yours.

  3. “That oak looks healthy but it could make trouble,” says the bearded, brown-eyed man who calls himself The Tree Surgeon. It’s shrink-wrapped onto the side of his van: a cartoon version of himself in doctor’s scrubs taking the delicate but deadly equivalent of a ninja’s chain saw to the branch of a tree. “See that overhang?” He points to a branch on the south side of your house that is, in truth, overhanging, casting shade on your almost-new roof shingles. “We cut that back to the trunk. Quick, easy peasy, saves the tree, saves your roof.”

    You open an “easy peasy” category in the running inventory you keep in your head. Five trees he called “trouble.” Two he labeled “problematic.” One a “definite takedown.” Deep-down you know it’s for the best, but you don’t want to lose any your trees. They make you feel rooted to the earth, and although the town says you own them, you feel that they really own you. That you are entrusted with their care, responsible for their good health and prosperity, as if you have been deeded pets or children along with your residential acre. Apparently you have not been a good custodian, and you feel as if you’re failing them, and again you chide yourself for letting Harvey uproot the adolescent red maple from the front lawn a week after you moved in.

    But Harvey’s not here anymore.

    You jettison that last thought as you follow Dr. Tree-ninja-man around the property. He touches bark, he follows sight lines, he taps data into his tablet with a dirt-smudged, callused finger. There is just the right amount of salt in his otherwise pepper hair to make you feel comfortable. Not so young that you worry about his professionalism and not so old that you worry about his back. Finally he hands you a printout and begins to explain the details—discounts, logistics, equipment—but all you hear is blah blah blah while the number at the bottom of the page hollows out your stomach. This makes three quotes and all have come out around the same. You had no idea it would cost so much to kill a living thing and take it away.

    “I know, it looks like a lot,” he says, authentically apologetic. Reminding you of a boy you crushed on in high school who let you down so kindly you walked away feeling better about yourself. “But I like to think we do good work, and we don’t ever take money for the woodchips or toss them in a landfill. They go to whoever needs them. Tell you what. You think about it.”

    And then he smiled as if to soften the blow and left. The cartoon van rolled down the driveway. You stare at the quote. Then look at the tree he’d called a definite. “What would you do?” you ask it, and instantly you feel embarrassed, hoping the neighbors—always outside doing yardwork, it seemed—aren’t within earshot. You close your eyes, focusing on the tree. You swear the tree says “it’s time.” Or was that Harvey’s voice?

    You pin the quote atop the others on the bulletin board in the kitchen, make a note to call tree-ninja-guy in the morning, and smile.


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