Perhaps it was the drought that parched our crops, the tornado that monstered through the one-block area we called “downtown,” razing the only pharmacy, grocery store, and hardware store within fifty miles, or maybe it was the group of children who tried to cool off with a dip in the river on yet another day of record-breaking heat, oblivious to the current that would drag them under and release them miles away as bloated bodies, or possibly it was the spate of melanomas that appeared on the faces, arms, and legs of so many of us, a collective sprouting of malignant black moles, but most likely it was a combination of these events that explains what happened on the last Sunday of summer, there in our tiny wood church that had stood on a hill for over a century with its simple, one-story rectangular design, chipped white paint on the exterior, and lopsided cross on top of the steeple, gravity pulling it down—yes, it was probably the collective weight of these tragedies that caused the few of us who still attended sermons to stand, one by one, in the middle of the pastor’s lecture on the Book of Job and without uttering a word walk out the door never to return, the floors straining and moaning under our feet as we left, the walls bending inward like a collapsed lung, the pastor alone on the altar, trembling in the jaundice light that hemorrhaged through the windows coated in dust, silent now, unable to answer the question of how long something can go on.
Mason Binkley is the author of the flash fiction collection, Familial Disturbances (Ellipsis Zine, 2019). His stories and humor pieces have appeared in Necessary Fiction, Pithead Chapel, Jellyfish Review, Barely South Review, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, New World Writing, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and other places. He reads for Pithead Chapel and lives in Tampa, Florida, where he works as an attorney. You can find him on Twitter: @Mason_Binkley.