by Ryan Anderson

Raindrops cling to the leaves, and the branches droop like the arms of a man trying to lift too much weight. Yesterday was her fifth birthday; I wasn’t invited to the party this year. Alice wraps her tiny arms around a trunk and sniffs the bark. Nothing can take her away from me, I think. An ice cube melts in the dirt, from the drink she spilled while laughing. Nantucket will only be a funny word where we’ll never visit. “Daddy, can I climb?” she asks. Enlightened, she’ll one day leave me, but I tell her, “Yes,” anyway. Reaching towards the first branch, she opens her mouth in surprise when her foot lifts from the ground. Soon she’ll do this without my permission, and I’ll forever have to check up in the trees when I can’t find her. On my birthdays I hope she’ll remember to call. No one will be allowed to tell me to give up hope, and maybe someday I’ll be lucky enough to forget this all existed.

Ryan Anderson is a professional songwriter living in Asheville, North Carolina with his daughter, and performing under the name Minorcan. He was raised in Florida and graduated from Savannah College of Art and Design, where his only previous published story, “Buried,” appeared in the school's Artemis Literary Journal. Austin, Texas was his home for six years before he moved to North Carolina in 2010.