Did I Tell You

A large tree branch fell on the sidewalk right where people stop to pet our neighbor's needy cat. I imagine it fell the way a chandelier falls in a movie. I didn't see it fall. Or hear it. Now it stands on the sidewalk like a mannequin wearing a prom dress. All the leaves are mint green but dying.

My neighbor retrieves his mail and takes a picture of the fallen branch with his phone. I see this from a window. I wait for an animal to crawl out from under the leaves and stretch its legs. I continue to wait. There is no animal. I write the image down on a list of ideas and titles for potential stories. The list is long. There's only so much time, and I'm still working on the little book I've been working on for a year. I would be done, but it's not the only work I do.

I bet you rolled your eyes. Me, too.

I can't remember everything I've told you. This summer has been kind. I told you that. I saw my family. I started transcribing interviews for a woman in New Mexico. I've taken more photographs. Made ice cream. Pies. Knitted one baby blanket.

Oh! But I didn't tell you this: Josh and I are going to Los Angeles next month to see Roxane Gay read from her new book of essays, BAD FEMINIST. Go if you can go. We'll go to the beach. We'll see friends. We'll ask everyone we meet for their personal experiences with rattlesnakes and mountain lions. We'll get tattoos. We'll come home.

Wait. Josh says he's not getting a tattoo.

Another list I keep is a list of potential tattoos. I like them. I like tattoos. You know all this. Why am I telling you? I'm telling you because my friend's husband was trying to convince Josh to get a tattoo. My friend's husband grabbed my arm and stroked my three square tattoos and said to Josh, "See how beautiful a tattoo can be?"

I'm still not fully recovered. I place my hand over my heart. It's there. I try not to think about how my hand and my heart are the same size. I don't like to remember I'm full of organs. There are better ways to pass the time.

I look out the window. The tree branch is gone now. Sawdust has replaced it on the sidewalk. I was home all day, and I didn't hear the saw. I heard dogs bark. I heard the doorbell ring, but I didn't answer it. When I went out for the mail, the neighbor's cat was asleep on the doormat.

"Hey, you!" I said.

I try to come up with something for the cat to have done. Something more interesting than nothing. But the cat did nothing. He didn't wake up, or roll over, or scratch the hell out of my legs. He stayed asleep. I went inside and locked the door. I sat down at the dining room table and drew two self-portraits that looked like someone else. The hours passed, and I was pleased.