I rake leaves into a black garbage bag under moonlight.
I hear Jean tell me about the benefits of leaving a few leaves in the yard.
“It’s good for the soil. Don’t you care about the soil?”
I don’t know what’s come over me, but I need the leaves gone. I need the grass in the backyard cut. I stuff the leaves into a black garbage bag. I drag the lawnmower from out the basement and get it going.
Not long after Van appears.
Van, my backyard neighbor, pokes his head over the wooden fence that separates our backyard from his backyard. He’s saying something but I can’t hear him. I don’t want to. He’s wearing a thick pair of headphones that cover the whole of his ears. He knows my situation. His hands flail in the air like an aircraft marshaller. I ignore him and the sound of cars speed racing on the interstate south of us.
My cell phone vibrates. It’s Jean.
Something like a slow fog slogs through me.
“Normal,” she texts, “why don’t you come to bed? It’s 3 in the morning?”
I let up on the safety shut-off lever. The lawnmower’s engine purrs, settles into silence.
Van’s voice is still going. “Normal,” he’s yelling. “Normal. Man, it’s after midnight.” He’s enthusiastically pointing to the stars.
Under the moonlight, I hear her voice. Over my shoulder, I feel her. I turn around and Jean is hanging out of the window in our bedroom like a ghost.
“Norm? Why don’t you come to bed?”
I go to my side of the bed. I lay down. I roll onto my right side. I open Google from my phone, go to the latest tab I have open. I re-read the headline: Husband of Woman Killed by Illegal Drag Racers Says Courts aren’t Tough Enough on Offenders. I feel as if I’ve become a main character, a story without an ending.
I’m as sad as wet grass.
Jean, I say, hoping she can hear me, Jean.
Jason Harris is a Black American writer. He currently serves as an editor for Gordon Square Review. He has received fellowships from The Watering Hole and Twelve Literary Arts. To read more of his work, you may visit his website: https://jasonharriswriter.com/. His Twitter handle is @ecopoems