(Note: I did write longer than sixty seconds.)
Janice looked out the farmhouse window.
“The tree’s still there,” she whispered. Actually the sound came out more like a sigh than anything else.
Sasha slowly turned her gaze from the fireplace toward Janice’s voice. “What?”
“The tree.” Janice pointed a finger toward the window. “Douglas fir. In the wagon. It’s still out in the yard.”
Sasha’s breath worked its way in and out of her lungs. “I don’t know what you are talking about, Janice. What tree? What wagon?”
Color crept up Janice’s neck. The next words came out in bites and spurts. “Dad’s tree. The one he brought up from Kliner’s farm. Just like the one he brought up every Christmas. Only this time…. This time, it didn’t make it inside. This time….” Large tears bubbled over the edges of her lids and down the flushed cheeks. “This time Dad didn’t make it inside.”
Sasha stiffened as if someone shoved a tension rod down the back of her shirt. “That is still in the yard? Why didn’t you get rid of it?”
Janice took two steps across the room and glared down at her sister. “Why didn’t I get rid of it? I really don’t know Sasha. I guess between cooking dinner for eleventy-five relatives for seven, no eight straight nights and coordinating things with Mr. Devlin at the funeral home and prodding you to get dressed each morning so you wouldn’t walk around the house half naked in front of all kinds of relations and washing dishes and cleaning rooms and generally keeping things from falling apart around here…. I guess with all of that, Sasha, I just didn’t have time to get around to hauling our unfortunate non-Christmas tree away from the house and back to the wood pile where it belongs.”
Janice wobbled a moment, unsteady after the rush of words. She sat at the table still littered with breakfast dishes. Sasha slowly looked back toward the fire.
“Well,” Sasha said, “you need to get rid of it soon. I don’t need that thing around reminding me of the day Daddy died.”
A saucer whizzed by Sasha’s head and smashed into the fireplace. She quickly turned to see Janice grab her coat and stalk out the door.
“Good,” Sasha said to no one. “I’m glad she’s taking care of that now.”
When she heard the car start, Sasha wondered why Janice needed it to move the tree.