Sweat dripped onto the sidewalk placed on the bare cardboard. With precision, his nimble fingers William crafted a tree no bigger than a quarter in the dark basement of a house in Milwaukee. It was meant to fit in perfectly in the rest of his creations. A train track carved out its place in the green turf that made up the grass and even the smallest buildings were meticulously organized, painted, proportioned and put into the invisible blueprints that were mapped out in his mind, a replica of his town. Building things calmed him. The phone rang. His eyes flicked up for a moment and returned to his work. Silence and then again, the phone rang. Sighing and placing the deciduous tree carefully down he stood, his knees cracking. He wiped his gluey hands on his pants.
“Is William Yaohua there?”
“Speaking.” He reached with a dirty finger into his mouth and swabbed out some spaghetti noodle hiding behind his molars.
“I’m calling to tell you that your sister has been admitted to Columbia Saint Mary’s”
“The Hospital? Is she alright?”
“She is in the hospital. She’s been hit by a car and suffered blunt trauma to the face and chest. She is currently in the ICU undergoing surgery. You were her emergency contact.”
“Alright, I’ll be there soon.” He slammed the landline onto the receiver. The thunderous sound of his footsteps echoed his heartbeat. The crack of the car door and the revving of the engine was the last thing that he heard on his property, besides the buzzing in his head.
Will sat in the waiting room for four hours. He couldn’t tear his eyes away from every movement of the short hand of the clock. It was as if his eyes were tied to it with rope. His hope was the only thing strong enough to be pulling his attention away every time the doors of surgery swung open, but every time his eyes met a different very busy nurse.
“Yaohua?” He stood up, the magazine he had been holding went sprawling onto the ground. The pages showed the best way to trim belly fat to the ceiling. The doctor gripped his shoulder.
“The good news is that she is stable and you can see her now. However, she’s in a comatose state and has sustained extreme injuries. There’s no other way to put this. She may never be the same again.” Will’s eyes clouded over.
“Hey, sis.” He sat down next to Rebecca and gripped her hand tightly. Her face was completely covered with bandages. “I love you.” His voice cracked, and the Electrocardiogram beeped steadily in response. “I’m sorry that this happened to you. But I’m here for you. I’ll be here if you need anything. I know you probably can’t hear me, but do you remember when mom got sick that first time? Injuries are no match for us. We always pull through.”
The sky was filled with rain-engorged clouds. Everyone was wearing black and shivering in the autumn bluster. The casket was a deep brown color and Rebecca’s friends and families were surrounding the priest, listening quietly.
“…For we know that if our earthly dwelling, a tent, should be destroyed, we have a building from God, a dwelling not made with hands, eternal in heaven. The word of the Lord.” The crowd echoed back. Will stood at the back of the crowd. He remembered the days of sunshine of their youth and how much hope and intelligence she always carried with her.
The boxes of Rebecca’s things flooded into his house. The only surviving member of their family and Rebecca never married. He sifted through clothes, keeping photographs, old papers written by his sister, and an antique pocket watch then donating the rest.
He drove carefully on the icy roads. The snow fell quickly and the windshield wipers squawked angrily. He stopped at a railroad crossing as the lights were signaling a train. Handling the timepiece in his jacket pocket he pressed the buttons, making the gears click and shift. As his car idled the hot air circulated his car. Sighing, he fidgeted for a couple of minutes before he turned on the radio.
“…’an’t believe this. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before. It’s the 28th of January and an oak tree is growing straight out of the concrete on the corner of Walnut Street and Wells in the near west side. Locals state that there was no sign of any plants before 5 pm yesterday.” William blinked and looked at the street signs. It read North Wells Street. A car sped by as fast as a bullet. He pulled out his smartphone and looked up his location. “Other changes have been noted by city officials as the very landscape changes beneath our feet causing extreme structural damage. There is no other way to describe it as other than a supernatural natural event.” Walnut Street was only two blocks from him north of his intersection.
He pulled out his sister’s pocket watch and flicked the stopwatch function off. He didn’t realize that he had turned it on last night. “The changes in the landscape have reverberated as policemen answer calls regarding what witnesses describe as a freak earthquake…” He spotted the tree in the distance its flat broad leaves waving at him in the winter wind. The green was as vivid as emeralds in the vast whiteness of snow. He thought about the acorns on the branches. Squirrels would at least be happy.
The darkness of the basement was comforting. The soft sound of Miles Davis echoed softly in the corner emanating from an antique record player. The small amount of light reflected off the flat black grooved disk.
In the basement, he was meticulously creating a model of the local news tower, K48. He referenced his blueprint and spotted that he had left the tree on the sidewalk. He stopped and stared. He had left the miniature oak tree on the sidewalk two blocks from the intersection that he had seen earlier that day. The small street signs that he had erected read, Wells and Walnut.