Or so said Gran, the old witch. Who knew what she saw, what lay in the way; the then, the now, the what would be.

 

For me, who loved her, and the tall pole beans she grew out back, and the wild red rose in her front yard where the red oaks soared high as the house.

 

I lived there all my life, a child so young, so lost, nine, ten, and no one there but me to hear and Gran’s son in his bare shirt and jeans.

 

Paul, his name was Paul.

He lived his life inn a spare room off the porch.

“I don’t want to live like this,” he once growled at me.

I was a child and did not know what to say.

“She locked me up and kept me here,” he said.

 

Chills crept down my spine, but man, you can’t make these things up. My Gran could not have been a witch, could not have locked him up.

 

Then one day at the crack of dawn, Mom and Dad loomed at the foot of my bed, heads sunk in a new dark place, and said, “Paul’s dead.”

 

“What?” I asked, in shock and doubt.

Paul dead? He talked to me, had been my friend.

“And how?”

“And why?”

They could not say.

 

But that I learned he took Gran’s old Ford truck and all the wrongs he’d held close to his chest and broke through the barbed wire fence and rolled down the slope to the pond.

 

Drowned and dead, and not one word to me, his friend.

Life is a tale, Paul’s voice said in my head.

You get to end it when it’s time.

 

As for Gran, who’d locked him up, she cried.

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