The Death Sentence

My mother and I live alone. What I mean by this statement is that my mother lives alone and I live alone. Not that it is much of a life, either hers or mine. My mother has long said the reason for living is to get ready to stay dead a long time. She’s said she read this statement in a book. I’ve asked my mother which book, but she’s said she cannot remember, but she has also said she is certainly glad I’ve asked, even if she doesn’t have an answer. My mother has said one must always ask questions. She’s said one must always ask questions or, otherwise, how would there ever be any answers. I’ve asked my mother if that is a question or a statement. My mother has said that is neither a question nor a statement but a pronoun. We’ve called that the long-running joke. We have laughed and laughed about it, and we have laughed about it together rather than alone. And we’ve even called all of this we share together living when we have said, You call this living? Yes, I’ve also asked my mother if this is a question. My mother has said no, that this, like that, is a pronoun. She has also said it is a death sentence, which neither she nor I think is very funny.

Brennen Wysong’s fiction and poetry have appeared in Black Warrior Review, Indiana Review, Denver Quarterly, Quarter After Eight, Fourteen Hills, and other journals. He’s received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Constance Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts. He lives in the Theater District of New York with his wife Debra and son, Calder Birch.