I stare way up through the trees. The sky is up there someplace. My neck stretches long and longer. Lichens brush past. cedar branches curl and uncurl around my ears. Chickadees surprise out of their nests. Finally my head is above the canopy and then oops. Snaps right off. My neck collapses like a rope dropped off the side of a building. Drapes and loops around the rest of me, way down there on the forest floor.
My head goes on slowly whirling across the tree tops and then up into the low clouds, dodging helicopters and geese. The geese swing their heads around to honk and stare at me. Who would have thought I could fly without my body.
Im getting too good a view of all the clearcutting. I feel a drowning sadness. I cry and sob, but — not very satisfying without my lungs to fuel it. I roll my way over to the national park, farther from the tree murders and the cruel racket of the motorcycles, leaf blowers, cement mixers, trucks.
Im still wearing my warm hat which is good because wow is that glacial air cold. But I feel wonderfully free and light without my body. Nothing is itchy. My knees dont hurt. I can see mountain goats and bears, a herd of elk, a few coyotes, an occasional tent. I circle and meander around the meadows and rivers and peaks. It’s gaspingly lovely. But, even this far away, I can hear a distant hum of human activity. And I’m still inhaling the ubiquitous invisibly-poisoned air, though at least it cant give me lung cancer at the moment.
The spinning and flying is thrilling, but I’m starting to miss my body. It would be nice to take some photos. I would like to pick a handful of flowers. Im already thinking with nostalgia of peeling and slicing gravensteins. Riding my bicycle. Drawing. Sending emails to my friends.
Meanwhile, the rest of me is still sitting in the woods, optimistically filling my notebook, page after page of incoherent nonsense syllables. My pen has run out of ink, but I don’t notice. I can feel the breeze on the backs of my hands, and on the coils of my bare neck. I cant hear the birds. I can’t hear the voice of the wind in the treetops. But I can’t hear the chainsaws either. It’s really quiet.
Ive been trying to sip tea into my neck — there must be a hole it can go down. But I’m not thinking very clearly, and I cant really see what Im doing, and the tea is splashing down the back of my neck, at first hot, becoming damply chilly.
Im not just sure what to do next. Without my head, I might trip over something, run into a tree. It’s going to be maybe a little tough to drive to the grocery store? Or to update my website. I might like to cut up some strawberries for breakfast, to accompany the yogurt and granola, but the logistics are beyond me. ..
I think maybe I will miss Rachel Maddow, a little. Or maybe I wont miss her. Maybe it’ll be more restful not to get all revved up by her brilliant sharp twist on the bad news….
Surely there was something I was supposed to be doing? Making a phone call? Chopping kindling for the wood stove? That sounds a little dangerous.
My friends will probably think I’m funny-looking without my head.
So I just sit there and wait for my head to come back. In a way it’s more peaceful without my head. Kind of relaxing. I finally fall asleep sitting up. My notebook slides off my lap. The pen falls out of my fingers. After awhile I stretch out on the forest floor. That’s even more relaxing. Beneath me, the world breathes slowly, in and out, up and down.
A long time later, something arrives in the palm of my hand. My fingers reflexively curl around it. Scratchy and slimy at the same time. Sadie’s tennis ball. It probably smells terrible. She might not smell all that great herself, but I cant tell. She could easily have rolled recently in some horribly dead thing. Rot or perfume though — it’s all the same to me without my head. Automatically I toss the ball. Less than a minute later, it drops into my hand again. Eventually, she curls up beside me, one paw across my shins, her breath on my ankles. Her warm back rises and falls next to me. The old tennis ball is tucked under her chin like a teddy bear.
If my head ever comes back, I might tie it down with a scarf. Or maybe I would keep it on a long leash. My head on a kite-string, I could walk the beach without all the commentary. Or maybe we are separated forever and this is my new life. I could get used to it.