In a dream, a red-beaked bird told me, "You have a future in Holland," and so I quit my job and booked a ticket. I ate a sensible meal of root vegetables the morning before my flight. On the plane, I was seated next to a salesman who described Holland as an "emerging market." His teeth looked more like teeth than any I'd ever seen. Most Dutch demolition firms, he explained, were still using cast iron wrecking balls from the 1950s, and modern, U.S.-made steel wrecking balls were more durable and longer-lasting. I wondered out loud why, if they'd lasted seventy years already, the Dutch wrecking balls required replacement. "Besides, seventy years seems a sensible lifespan for a wrecking ball," I told the salesman, my face as honest as a dinner plate.
His spine straightened. He sniffed and explained. "Regardless of your ‘sensible lifespan,’ the owner can’t ignore the coming rust. He just can’t. We alleviate that weakness. We sell infinity," he said, holding his dry palms open.
It took decades to see the red-beaked bird again. This was well after Holland. I was nowhere closer to the future, but I still hoped for another command. I climbed the tall maple's branches to get as close as possible to her, but not so close as to scare her off. By the end, I was perched on a narrow, bowing branch. A crowd gathered below, but not directly below—they were cowards, pitifully concerned with their own safety. I cocked my ear in the bird's direction. I waited for her to speak again.
Will VanDenBerg's short fiction has been published in Threadcount, Denver Quarterly, No Tokens, and elsewhere. He is a graduate of the Literary Arts MFA program at Brown University. He volunteers as a clinic escort at PPGNY and lives with his wife in Sunnyside, NY. Their dog is no longer afraid of wind.
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