Reprieve

My father jumped off a ladder to avoid being crushed by a falling tree. One minute he was cleaning the gutter, the next he was posing by a heap of mangled aluminum for the photographer from WHEW.

Soon everyone was flying from ladders – old ladies, poets, apple-cheeked toddlers. Trees crashed to the ground. Cause and effect were called into question. Schrödinger’s cat was dead and alive, depending on whom you asked. Quantum physicists danced in the streets.

My father stopped drinking for a year. Then he tripped on the bedroom carpet and broke his neck. No one was surprised.

“The exception proves the rule,” he whispered, through a tube.

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