As If I'm Used to All This by Will Pewitt

I get a call at 7:10 in the morning and I hear a girl say, “Evie just fell off Aaron’s roof!”

“I don’t know anyone named Aaron,” I say without thinking.

“Okay then. Evie just fell off this guy’s roof.”

“Don’t know any Evie.”

“Go to hell,” she says.

“Who is this?”

“This is Kay. Isn’t this Tim?” says this person.

I look outside at my father’s ranch in west Texas. There are actually horses and cows and things here. The sun is purpling up over cornfields. My father died last spring. Now my sister and I have to tend to it.

On a whim I decide to play along.

“Tim. Yeah, it’s Tim.”

“How long will it take you to get to the hospital?” the girl asks. “Can you get down there soon? I’ll pay for it.”

“I’ve told Evie before that she shouldn’t be getting drunk and climbing on roofs.”

“No, she wasn’t drinking. She doesn’t even drink anymore.”

“Kay, she needs to give that up. And she does too still drink. She got drowned last Tuesday.”

“I’ll talk with her about it later,” Kay says. Then she asks, “So, will you go down to the hospital?”

I can hear my sister getting up to feed some chickens or something rustic like that. I look out and see her walking along the edge of the cornfield with something that looks like a staff in her hand, maybe trying to kill snakes. Soon, I know I’ll tell her she’ll have to take care of it herself. I’m just not made for this. What do I know about looking after things?

I say, “Every time something like this happens, you call me.” Kay groans. So do I. Then I say, “So where’s the hospital?”

She gives me directions to a place I have never heard of before.

“Okay, I’ll go. You two just better be thankful.”

I say it as if she is a burden, as if I’m used to all this.

“Great,” she says. “I’m really thankful.”

The morning light turns from purple to pink, the color of a pinched cheek.

“Every time,” I start, but end it differently than I planned to. “Every time I talk to you, I love you even more.”

“I think my signal’s breaking up,” she says.

“Don’t talk like that. You heard me. I really think you’re gorgeous. I always have, Kay.”

She makes a soft, embarrassed noise and hangs up. I call back immediately and when she picks up, she says hello unevenly, as if she might be realizing she had the wrong number to begin with. I can hear the confusion in her voice.

“Listen,” she says. “I think there’s been …”

“I’ve always loved you.”

“Very funny.”

“Every time I think of you, I think of how I want to rescue you from something.” She is quiet, but still listening.

“Seriously,” I say, looking outside. “I wish we could be together. I wish this life were longer.”