The wheels of his chair cut slow progress through the autumn mud. We had to get there today, or the snows would turn the forest path into a road mortals could not walk. Exhausted, I rested my forearm on my old man’s shoulders, and listened to the intermittent rain hissing from a steel sky
“I’m sorry to bring you out all this way, Ben,” Dad’s cold hand gripped mine. The rain beat impatient dabs on the umbrella I held above our heads. Up the way a crow landed and picked at a heap of leaves and flew off again. Its caw carried through the wood. The horizon in all directions the shapes of birch.
“I know Dad, you’d do it yourself if you could,” I continued for him. He nodded and the chair creaked and squealed over the earthen mounds and I pulled the blanket further up his emaciated thighs.
We were nearing the tree he picked out as a beautiful spot to decompose back when he made me promise about this day. I handed him the brown paper bag once we caught sight of the willow and he rasped the archaic revolver’s cylinder and counted the number of rounds out loud. I had loaded all six, just like we agreed on my 11th birthday.