Casting Long Shadows
by Patrick Hall
I bought the hammock two summers ago to surprise you. Walking, hands-in-pockets, through the hardware store, I spotted it, judged its price. You were at work for a few more hours and I spread it out on the living room floor. Ropes woven together, chains and rings on each end, a pillow. I took a picture of it and sent it to you. I figured the surprise would be more welcome, with you stressing at a new job, than waiting until you came home. You expressed your excitement, said your “I love you.”
Of the four trees in the yard at our duplex, two were the perfect distance. One a Cedar, the other, just a tree that I couldn’t identify. Holes and hooks in each, the hammock hung between them. It held us aloft, swaying back and forth, the summer sun shining on your face, your eyes squinting, your smile wide.
It held our weight, cradled our bodies. Books were our company; the nights spent fending off mosquitos, kisses in the dark, hands exploring what could not be seen. We would debate who would sit first, how to sit without flipping the other. You laughed often.
Then the hammock stood in the corner of a dark closet. Rolled and tied up, shut away for the winter. We begged for a day to hang it again, to find the perfect balance, to cradle us.
A photograph. Your head on my shoulder, your smile, your eyes, looking through me, somewhere else.
Now I’m lying, swaying, suspended. I’ll remain here, alone, the woven ropes more to catch my fall, and the setting sun casting long shadows over everything we touched.
Born in Alabama, but raised in Tennessee, Patrick Hall has known the South through thick and thin. He studied history and creative writing at the College of Charleston. After working as a reporter and newspaper editor in the suburbs of Nashville for several years, he moved to Denver in July 2013, where he continues to explore the impact and lasting impressions the South has made in his life through short fiction.