After work, the three of us stood around in the office while the sun went down, talking about politics, past jobs, and sickness. C noted that there were many more sick teachers and administrators this year. They're dropping like flies, he said. It's the long summer, he said, bacteria needs cold damp weather. But the cold brings other problems.
A kid died after playing in the leaves when when I was superintendent, D said. He was the son of one of our principals. They were out playing in the leaves and the next day he was in the hospital. They didn't know what it was for days. They even brought down the CDC from Atlanta. It turned out that it was some rare genetic trait that both he and his brother had inherited. They both died. It was so tragic. It destroyed their marriage and drove them both crazy. It was so tragic.
In five minutes, D told a story that claimed four lives. It's so easy to sum up days and years and lifetimes. Given a few minutes and enough creativity, we could probably cover just about everything in the time it takes to microwave dinner.
I'm fascinated by the way people tell stories. IB once said she saw this come up again and again in my writing, that I zone in on anecdotes. It's how we get by and through life, breaking the slow march of days and years into manageable, meaningful things. But, whenever you stop to think about it, write it down, stories somehow seem to callous and almost Kafkaesque. Pick up Etgar Keret or Alex Epstein sometime. Short short stories are spooky.
In other news, my good friend Colleen Morrissey's story, "Good Faith," was just published in The Cincinnati Review. Check it out.