Tuesday
Dec222015

Empire

Dennis James Sweeney


 

I went out in the woods to find my children and, in my absence, they had made of it an empire. Cables spanned the sky. For what?

To hold down the clouds, Delila answered.

And the tarps that hung between the trees?

To keep the ground dry, little Thomas said, and when I objected that the soil needed water to survive, he prodded me with his poleax. He gestured at the sky.

Do you see the sun? he asked.

Of course I see the sun.

You told me it goes down in the west.

I nodded.

He shook his head angrily. But it doesn’t go down, he said.

I opened my mouth again, but he had his poleax at the ready. In fact I looked up and the sun was bulging against a green net just a few degrees off of noon.

You did this?

He hummed. Delila wove, I climbed.

I tried to imagine my boy ascending the molecules, grinding his foot into a warm front, getting a grip on a V of flying ducks. His freckled eyes were firm in the way of insecure kings.

You did a good job, I said. I love you. I knew that would break him.

And it did. He ran behind a tree and wouldn’t let me see him cry. When he’d finished, we walked back to the house for grilled cheese. Delila followed curiously.

When we had reached the edge of the forest, the sun yelped a little.  Thomas, Delila, and I stopped and looked up. We were just within sight of our house.

Then I was rising. My daughter had wrapped a cable around my foot and, with the clouds, I was moving up and away. Thomas clapped his hands.

As I passed over our patio, I could see my wife in the kitchen. She dragged a knife through our grilled cheeses, leaving four triangles where there was once a single square. Just before I floated out of sight, the grapes beside her turned red.