Finally. Someone knows something.
Here’s what I know.
The landlord asks me to help. I volunteer Brandon to come with me, too. Not like we’re going anywhere. Gives me an excuse to talk to him. He didn’t make sense last time.
Hats. T-shirts that are gracious about sweat.
A shed in the backyard. A chainsaw. A hand saw. Some gritty gloves. A roll of fraying twine.
We give the jacaranda a trim. Once green. Now cardboard, old and dead.
The saw is heavy in my hands. Branch. Branch.
I cut the tree. Brandon helps.
An extension cord wraps around my leg. I grab for it.
Brandon says nothing when he moves around and unwinds me. He goes back to the dry branches. Breaks them apart. I don’t quite catch his eyes.
He seems excited but not quite here. He moves faster than me. Maybe I'm the one out of it. Still. He didn’t need to do that.
I can cut down a tree.
After the branches, I reach as high as I can stretch with the cord. Hands at eye level. Too high, I can’t control it.
Brandon trims whatever falls. Hum. Clunk. Clack.
I ask Brandon how he’s doing.
“Anything that gets me out of my room.”
I know the feeling. I move on to another part of the tree. Brandon shifts.
I can’t stop thinking about this tree. I’m not fond of trees in general. Why were Brandon and I there? Turning a brittle skeleton tree into a nest.
I wrap some of the last bundles up in twine. Brandon catches his breath.
I didn’t even know this area got earthquakes.
“Flood. Earthquake. All the same, right? I felt it, too.”
There was a flood. Tyler’s wrong. I didn’t just hit my head?
“Different people, same disaster.”
I don’t think so. I was there. I didn’t feel any earthquake. And the flood looked like it came out of nowhere. Or I didn’t see where it came from. Tyler and I have looked—“Looked everywhere and no sign of it.”
How do you know that?
“I don’t know anything.” He looks tired, like we just finished the work.
Yeah. I talked with some other people, but they don’t know anything. But at least it’s good to know that this thing did happen. I didn’t just, like, hit my head.
“Whatever you say.”
I point at the bundles. What do we do with the wood now?
“I hope it’s firewood.”
Like we need it now. It's too hot.
“I’m sure everyone will want it at some point.”
Unless it gets wet.