The Sun Over the Trees

            Nothing concrete in his thoughts -- or in his soul -- save for the simple knowledge that soon there would be no more pain, save for the overwhelming grace that soon the end would come.

            Michael stared out the window of the cabin and out into the Canadian woods. This was a good place to come, he thought, a good place to be at the end. He thought briefly of the life he had so recently left behind amid the towers of the New York Stock Exchange; they seemed so distant now, just fluttering memories in the cool, calm February air. He also thought of his mother, her phone call the day before, her cultured New England voice…

            "I just don't see why you won't come home for your birthday, it just isn't right!"

            "I can't, ma. You'll understand why after . . ." But he hadn't told her, of course.

            "Well, at least tell me you're feeling better. The air up there is good for you, right?"

            "Clean air won't cure lung cancer, ma."

            "Mike!" And her voice belied the fear and compassion and distaste he had, of course, always known she had felt. It wasn't just the injustice of her oldest son being stricken down, it was the indecency of it: the frail, delicate woman having to suffer so much.

            "I'm sorry. It is nice here, ma, very nice."

            "Well, that's good to hear, at least."

            It would hurt her more than anything he had ever done, he knew that, but he also knew that it would be easier than for her to watch him wither away. And if he was only being selfish? Well, she still his brother and sister-in-law and the grandkids. She'd be okay in the end.

As for Michael, the challenge was to be brave enough to do what he had come here to do. To save her, and himself, from the agonizing horror of waiting. A song wafted out from the small AM/FM radio on the bookcase. He reflected on the passion in the woman's voice as she sang: 

"...well I do want to be helpful

but it's cold and I'm told

you can't be too careful..."

            Nothing in his heart - -  or in his mind - -  save for the beauty of the February sun setting above the top branches of the trees, and the weight of the gun in his hand.