Now I can see the light for what it is.
You went off to see your family and I had planned it for months - years, actually, but only recently had I taken any action or moved a muscle.
It was quiet and obvious while you said your goodbye, but we maintained our character.
"See you in a few days." No added tension in the hug or extension of the kiss - we sneaked quickly and skillfully around all the things we'd learned to avoid.
It was going perfectly until the end, when you fucked it up - you held eye contact for a half-second longer than you would have had it been any other goodbye. You were telling me that you knew I had a plan. You waited until the end because you knew I would be distracted by the thought of the next step and my guard would be down. And you were right - and I couldn't help but keep my eyes on yours for another half-second, which confirmed your suspicions. And still we didn't say anything, because there was nothing to say. because we don't have enough time to identify and label every particle in the mountain.
And you went out the door with your old backpack, and that was it. It was fall.
I put on my boots and jacket and went out into the field. I had already found the flattest and most direct path to "the tree" which stood about 200 yards away from the house, near where the forest began. I had placed a wooden stake at the beginning of my path, where the tractor was parked, and another stake at about the halfway point. Today was the day I calculated timing.
I started the tractor, put it in gear, placed a brick on the accelerator and started my stopwatch. The tractor crept along slowly and I kept pace beside it. The steering wheel bobbed back and forth with the bumps in the earth. I was surprised at how well it maintained it's course. We reached the halfway point and I stopped the timer. Two minutes and thirty-four seconds. I stayed in step with the machine while looking at the watch. I knew two minutes and thirty-four seconds was more than adequate, in fact I knew that I didn't even need to time to the damn thing, this whole timing business was just stalling from fear.
We neared the tree. This was the part I was most concerned with. I heightened my pace and moved a few feet off to the left. The tractor lurched up over the roots and came to an anticlimactic stop against the trunk. The engine moaned and wheezed a bit, but it wasn't going anywhere.