by Donna Gagnon
by Donna Gagnon
Theresa slams the mailbox shut and wipes stains off her fingers. Life in the country looked idyllic from the outside. Fresh air, sunshine, lots of trees. From the inside, though, especially now Ilyka was dead, it was awfully dark.
She’d moved here to be the power in his office of two, to promote his chainsaw carvings and sleep in his bed while they waited for him to become rich and famous. It hadn’t happened. Theresa had learned to recognize 24 species of birds by their flight patterns and sounds but they almost lost the house because nobody would pay more than $20 for Ilyka’s work.
The six-foot tall eagle carved out of cottonwood had taken Ilyka three months to finish. After his accident, it stood on the front lawn, wings proudly outspread, until it rotted. Theresa had cursed the wealthy cottagers who’d oozed praise every Friday night as they drove past but refused to stop and open their wallets when she dragged it into the fire pit and set its remains alight.
Inside the house, she tears open a padded envelope, pulls out a video tape and a note that begins: “Dear Ilker Drennan:”.
She sits on the floor and squints at the twisted handwriting.
“I only gave you a ten spot. You probably don’t remember but it was for a ball in a cage thing you made down at the park. I had to cover my kids ears cause the saw was makin so much noise. A piece of wood hit one of em but they wasnt hurt. Anyway, this was years ago and I gave you what was in my pocket. You let me take it and said to put it somewhere proud.
So I did and its bin sittin on my porch where I lean every mornin when I have coffee. My kids threw it out when one of em won the lottery and gave me some cash and made me move into another place where people can take care of me now that I cant see too good.
I found this video that my wife whos dead now took when we were at the park. And I thot you should have it.
Yours truly, Samuel Brown
P.S. Don’t have much use for cash so I’m sending some of it to you cause I never paid you enough and my kids don’t deserve it.”
Theresa’s hand shakes as she inserts the tape into the machine. Ilyka’s chainsaw whines as he carves lines in a chunk of pine. Wood chips fly and Theresa looks down at the $40 cheque in her hand.
On a blank notebook page, she writes:
“Dear Mr. Samuel:
Thanks very much for the video. Sorry to tell you that Ilyka died last spring while cutting down a dangerous tree. He would have been happy that you love his carving.
The cheque's greatly appreciated. I’ll use it to buy some paint for my mailbox. It’s rusted a lot since Ilyka went away.