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Said is Dead

Story by Randall Brown (Read author interview) December 14, 2015

Art by Katelin Kinney

In the garden, he stood with shears, the hedges endless; she shoveled earth from the wheelbarrow. Day one of eternity.

“Where are the birds?” he asked.

“Gone,” she cooed. “Along with everything else.”

“Except for the pollution.”

“Pollution, chores, God.” The wheelbarrow filled itself as the garden expanded. “Everything gone except for those.”

“God?” he asked. “More like a bossman.”

She shushed him. The heavens had twisted like a serpent, taking everything. Making God mad again seemed not the brightest idea.

He whined for another glass of the good stuff, but she reminded him that the drinks came when the bell clanged, with that break in the work.

Wherever he went, the hedges followed. When would it end? He imagined a bridge forming across oceans, continent to continent, she planting, he shearing. Did the same end await this new world? An endless loop.

“A break?” he proposed. “Just for a moment.”

“I didn’t hear a bell,” she chimed in. “Did you?”

“No.” He had that Wizard of Oz song stuck in his head: Snip, snip here. Snip, snip there. Would it always be stuck inside? “I feel like Sisyphus, you know.”

“Rock and roll,” she joked.

“What did he do again?” he asked.

“Chained death,” she answered. “He didn’t want his wife to die.”

Sisyphus rolled the rock for an eternity, getting his wish, Death chained and prevented from reaching him.

What had he wished for moments before this world’s end? A turkey pastrami sandwich? Something stupid, surely.

“At least we have someone to talk to,” she mewed.

She replaced the wasted ground with her dirt, and up sprung hedges, trees, flowers, carrots. Behind her, he continued his trimming. Imagine eternity alone, rolling a rock, holding up the world, chained by the ocean as an eagle eats your liver, which grows back each night. There were worse fates.

A bell!

The shovel slid from her calloused hands, the shears from his. Each day might bring a new question, a new worry. “What happens when we run out of things to talk about?” he entreated.

They slumped under a weeping willow, a tiny pool of water near them, the water the fountain of youth, restoring them. It tasted like plum wine.

“Maybe we’ll be telepathic by then,” she pondered. “Think of a number.”


“Twenty-six,” she guessed.

“That’s it!”

She giggled. “You’re right, though. One day we won’t talk anymore. We’ll just, I don’t know, say things.”

“Like I love you,” he said. “Yes,” she said back. “Like I love you.”

About the Author

Randall Brown is on the faculty of Rosemont College’s MFA in Creative Writing Program. He has been published widely, both online and in print. He earned his MFA at Vermont College.

About the Artist

Katelin Kinney is from the hills and fields of Southern Indiana. She attained two BFAs from the Herron School of Art and Design in Indianapolis, IN. Her portfolio consists of fine art and commercial freelance work.

This story appeared in Issue Fifty of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Fifty

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