(A story inspired by true events)
From the deepest sleep, I gasp. I can’t breathe. My eyes open and strain to see a hand over my mouth and nose. As the light begins to filter, I see Kyle standing above me, shaking his head, holding a saw.
“I need your help.” His whisper is urgent.
I notice his cropped dirty blond hair shaved neatly behind the ears; strong, freckled-nose; mole on his left cheek. He looks exactly like me, except for the craziness in his eyes.
I struggle to move his hand and sit up. Above my twin bed sits a row of trophies and medals of all shapes and sizes, photographs of various sports teams, and newspaper announcements of my successes. On the opposite side is his stuff, which is as much as mine.
“Shh, you’ll wake Mom.”
Kyle grabs my hand and pulls me out of bed, grabs my clothes strewn on the back of a chair, and throws them at me. I yank my arm and shake it while I silently dress and follow my brother, on tippy toes, carefully over the squeaky bottom stair, to the kitchen door.
“What?” I repeat when we finally walk outside.
I gaze at the short but steep angle of the driveway through the fog of my breath. I rub my shoulders and stamp my feet. To the left of the asphalt sits mom’s car, a 1956 light green Dodge Coronet with white walled-tires and polished chrome fenders.
Kenny, it’s not as bad as it looks.”
I look at Kyle. I look at the saw. I look back at Kyle.
“Why do you have a saw?”
“See the tree?”
I shake my head. Kyle strides over to the driveway and points.
I sidle up to Kyle and look closer at the car. It’s sitting on the grass at the bottom of the hill. We stride down the drive to look at the rear bumper. We lean to the left, look under the car. We lean to the right, look under the car from the opposite angle.
I look at my brother. I look at the car. I look at the tree. The four foot tall, two inch wide dogwood is wedged between the bumper and the trunk. “Dang.”
The leafless sapling stood straight, its tender branches raised skyward. It had bent with the force of the car’s mass while on a downhill descent, then in an act of defiance, sprung back up, through the gap of the bumper and car’s trunk, heroically, as if to say “ta-da.” I knew this from the dream I had shortly before Kyle woke me. (Mom would say it’s a twin thing.)
“Mom will kill you if it scratched the paint.”
“Maybe we can pick the car up?”
“Kenny, it’s a car not a duck.”
“So what’s the plan?”
Kyle waves the saw in front of my face. “Cut up here, cut there, then pull it out.”
Fifteen minutes later, I look at the car now parked in the garage. The dim light from the bare bulb reveals a flawless finish. “Mom will never know!”
We cautiously climb up the stairs to our room for a well-deserved sleep.
For the second time, I wake from a sound slumber and gasp for air. Sitting up, I look at my brother, who’s doing the same.
“Kylekenny!” It’s a repeated scream that puts ice in our veins. “What happened to my tree?”