In the end, his only reason was it was a thing that needed doing. And so one night, with little fanfare and less warning, the walls began to rise behind one small tract house in Derbyshire, nudging out sweet peas and tomato vines.
By day, it seemed a modest, unassuming shed, eyeless and self-possessed. The neighbors hardly noticed Sweeney as he scuttled back and forth across his yard, puffing like an antique steam engine, faithful to timetables of his own.
Some men make wine from elderberry trees. Others spend the last remaining coin of their diminishing pile of days squinting out words traced with a pin, binding up Bibles tiny as thumbnails with stitching finer than a human hair. None of this for him. John Sweeney knew what Sartre only suspected. He was not the center of creation, not even the essential gear required for its completion. The last days were coming, and he would not be even a footnote to destiny. So Sweeney took steps.
On summer evenings, a sudden shattering cry would sometimes come from Sweeney’s yard. A wild noise, a fatal jungle sound, as if a slow-moving, dignified giraffe had found a lion’s jaw clamped on its throat.
But no one, peeking over fence edges or through fence holes, ever saw more than a sliver of grass, and Sweeney coming out of the shed, wearing Bermuda shorts, holding his watering can, smiling to the tin roof and the two-by-fours as if they shared a secret, celestial laughter no one else could hear.
K Roberts is a part-time poet, and a professional non-fiction writer and artist. Recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Pointed Circle, Detour Ahead, Decolonial Passage, Route 7, and Feral. Roberts is also a first reader in fiction for the Canadian magazine Nunum.
A Song for K