“That Time We Made a World” by Tom Gammarino

I had a vision. You seemed to share it.

We went in the yard, took out the sawhorses and tools, and got to work. By mid-afternoon, we were making excellent progress, and I looked at our world, the way it hovered and shimmered there above the lawn, and I didn’t need anyone to tell me it was good. When the time felt right, we climbed up into our new world and began to make it our home. We were very happy in there.

But then one day you said, “You know, I’m fond of this world we made, but what would you say to adding some grass?”

I loved you, so I conceded, and you stepped out of our world and came back the next day with some seeds, which you planted around our feet. You seemed very happy when they started to sprout, and I was happy for you, though I didn’t like the way the grass began to spread and cover over the opalescent ground we’d made.

Then one day you said, “Let’s get some trees.”

I told you that, though I liked trees, I didn’t think it was a great idea because our world wasn’t really big enough for trees.

But you wanted trees, so again I relented, and you stepped out of our world and came back the next day with some saplings, which you planted here and there amid the grass. I didn’t hate the trees, but neither did I like the way they began to crowd out the crystalline sky we’d made.

Then one day you said, “I miss all the animals. Let’s get animals.”

But this time I took my stand. I said, “Darling, I love this world we made, and I know it to be special and good. If we bring other animals in here, then we’ll have to feed them, and in order to do that we’ll have to start farming, and soon we won’t know the difference between this world and the one we left behind.”

“Don’t you ever miss it?” you asked.

I thought about it for precisely one second. “Never.”

“Oh,” you said. “I do.”

We sat in silence a while.

“What would you have me do?” I asked. “Should I just give up on this beautiful world we made?”

“You don’t have to do that. You can still live here. I’ll visit you sometimes.”

“But if you leave, then the world won’t be ours anymore, will it? It’ll just be mine.”

You nodded, and said, “Did you ever think maybe it was just your world to begin with?”

No. I hadn’t ever considered that possibility. Nor would I now.

The day you left, I dug up the trees and grass and threw them out the hatch, but it didn’t help; the world we’d made just didn’t seem so wonderful to me anymore. The day after that, I, too, stepped down and began carefully disassembling our world. I thought about incinerating the parts, but ended up storing them in the shed.

I still go out and look at those fragments sometimes. One by one I turn them over in my hands. Someday, I’m going to figure out what else I can make with them.

Tom Gammarino‘s latest novel is King of the Worlds. Recent shorter works have appeared, or will soon appear, in Interzone, The Oxonian, SFS Stories, Tahoma Literary Review, and Hawai’i Pacific Review, among others, and he recently co-edited Snaring New Suns: Speculative Works from Hawai’i and Beyond (Bamboo Ridge Press). He teaches Science Fiction and Magical Realism at Punahou School in Honolulu. tomgammarino.com.