The wind picks up. Most of the time the clouds and heaven are clear of debris, but this time not as much. So, God is blinking his eyes because something has gotten in one of them and now he’s seeing four or five versions of anything he looks at, like when you get really close to someone and it starts to look like they’ve got three eyes and a couple of noses. And God is blinking his eyes, and he’s thinking he has something in there and he can’t get it out and that’s why all of a sudden his right eye is watering and his vision is distorted and right before something got in his eye, God was looking at this guy down on Earth who was mowing his lawn and now he’s got a bunch of different versions of the guy swimming around in his vision.
First part of the vision that God can even focus on shows the guy mowing back and forth, back and forth, making nice even lines on the lawn. His back is sweating a bit and the guy takes off his shirt and drapes it over his left shoulder and keeps on mowing the lawn bare chested. After a while, his wife comes out of the house and hands him a lemonade and gives him a kiss.
God blinks a couple times and that part of the vision goes away. Next part of his vision that God can manage to focus on shows the guy again mowing his lawn. Same concise, nice and straight lines up and down the lawn, but the guy runs over something and the lawn mower jumps a bit and a rock shoots out of the side. Must have been a rock underneath that became stuck in the blades, and so this rock shoots out the side of the mower and into the window of the guy’s house and God sees the guy watch the window break into a bunch of pieces and then hear a yell from inside and then a kind of hiccupy-scream and then just a hiccupy-sound, and the guy runs inside and sees his wife sitting on the couch, a big gash in her neck from where the rock went clean through, and she’s making those hiccupy-sounds and then falls over and dies. God watches the guy staring at the blood and his wife and her neck and then God blinks his eyes and that part of his vision goes away.
Blinks his eyes a couple more times and shakes his head a bit and now God can only see three versions of the guy mowing his lawn, and he rubs at whatever is stuck in his right eye but it doesn’t help.
Next part of God’s vision that he can make out clearly shows the guy mowing his lawn, walking a little faster this time though, like he’s hustling to finish. The guy goes up one way and whips the mower around and goes back the way he came, all the while looking around and up and across the street and God watches the man finish up his work and push the mower towards the garage and empty out the grass into the trash can and sweep up anything that fell and put that in the trash can too, before he makes his way inside and hugs his wife. She has dinner ready and God watches them sit on the couch and watch television while they eat, and God rubs at his eye some more but still no luck, and the couple is sitting on the couch, and out of nowhere a man walks in and says come with me and points a gun at the two of them and they get up and follow him out to a black van. The man with the gun ushers them into the back of the van and blindfolds them and puts duct tape on their mouths and then drives off. After a while, God sees the man with the gun stop and let the guy and his wife walk around a bit in a desert somewhere in Arizona. The guy with the gun had driven east and stopped and now they’re walking around in the desert and God watches the man with the gun load them back up into the van and keep driving east for a while. Eventually, the van stops at the Grand Canyon and the man with the gun takes the guy and his wife out and takes off their blindfold and holds them still with his gun raised and they stand there for a while, at the edge of the canyon looking down on the cliffs and the colors and the river below, and they stand like that for an hour or two in complete silence before the man with the gun takes a deep breath and leads them back to the van. He does not put their blindfolds back on. The guy and his wife manage to sleep for a while as the van continues east along never ending roads through the middle of nowhere. Sometime later, the man with the gun stops the van again and the guy and his wife are let out and see they’re in the middle of farmland, no one else around but them. Grass and prairies stretch out, and where they don’t there’s corn growing tall, and all three of them look around for a while in the heavy silence, and before long the man with the gun had rounded up some wood and somehow or another lit a fire and brought out a ice chest with some steaks and started cooking those slowly over the flame, and no one said much at all and the guy and wife wait for the man with the gun to pull off their duct tape before eating, and even then no one says anything. The steaks are eventually eaten and the three of them get sleepy and soon they’re all making their way back into the van and the man with the gun sits in the front seat and leans his head back and is snoring and though the guy and his wife think they should escape, the emptiness around them leaves them skeptical of their chances, and so they too find a comfortable spot each in the back of the van and settle down for the night. They wake up and the van is moving. The van shakes along and they can hear the sounds of a city outside and they both press their ears to the side walls and try to ascertain where they are but have no luck. The van seems to drive forever and they hear nothing from the man with the gun. And then the van stops and the guy and his wife look at each other and wonder where they could be. They both have the sensation they’ve been in the van for days if not a week, and the sparse amounts of water and food in the back of the van with them attest to this. They’ve rationed and portioned out their supplies, planning ahead in case the man with the gun never gave them more, or never stopped driving, which appeared possible after so many lost days in the back, blind to the world passing by outside. But now the van is stopped and they hear the man with the gun walking around the side to open the back and then there he is, his arms opening the doors and revealing his body and his face and his sunglasses and the view behind him, the Atlantic Ocean, far below the cliffs the man with the gun has backed the car up to, and the view stretches out below them and is so much larger than anything they will ever hold or have or be. The man with the gun beckons them out of the car with his weapon and lays out a picnic blanket and some pieces of bread with cheeses and meat to choose from, and he plays some light music, and tells the guy and his wife to sit down and enjoy the view, to sit down and realize how nice this is, to see the country in its different forms, to sit down and realize there’s silence in so many different places in this country, and they heard the silence in the grass and now they hear the silence in between the crashes of the waves, and the guy and his wife sit down and stare at the view. The man with the gun asks, Aren’t you grateful for having had this experience? The guy and his wife whisper yes, and then the man with the gun says, Good, so it’ll be either off the cliff or I can do it myself, your choice, and God rubs his eye and that vision disappears and now he can only see two versions of the guy who was mowing his lawn and he rubs harder and harder and it’s not helping at all.
God can barely make out the two parts of his vision with the guy mowing his lawn. He rubs at his eye even more and that just makes it worse. He’s not used to troubles like this, struggles of this nature, against nature. He rubs at his eye and for a second catches a glimpse of the guy mowing his lawn running frightened from tree to tree around his property, looking this way and that way again like he was before, and then sprinting inside his house where his wife waits for him with beckoning arms before the man with the gun comes strolling up the front walkway and into the house and leads them both into the living room where he has them kneel, and then God rubs his eye harder and that part of his vision disappears. All of a sudden, his vision comes together into one. He must have finally gotten rid of whatever was stuck in his eye and he blinks a couple of times and wipes his eye dry and then looks down for a final time at the guy mowing his lawn and the guy is on his knees in the fresh cut grass, praying to God, thanking God for the normalcy of the day, and God says, That’s better.
— Teddy Burnette is a writer living in NYC. His first novel, Heartfelt Anything, is available from Expat Press. His fiction has appeared in Expat Lit Journal, APOCALYPSE CONFIDENTIAL, Maudlin House, Fugitives & Futurists and other publications.