My Life’s Work
Tanner Hadfield

It’s official: my life’s work is complete. All the papers have been stamped and signed. And let me tell you, it feels tremendous. Like putting a cigarette out in snow. Maybe the best part is that I’m only 22 years old. What will I do now? I might try my hand at playing video games. Anyways, I’m sure you’d like to know a little bit more about my life’s work. It would be rather laborious to describe the entire effect, and now that I’m done with my life’s work, I don’t do that kind of thing anymore. I’m not sure you’d even understand anyways. But I will try to give you an idea of some of the pieces that make up my life’s work.

1. It all started when I successfully engineered a breed of tree sporting solely downwardly diagonal branches. In the preliminary phases I had to create a tree whose trunk abruptly bent out and down, swinging back upon itself to form the primary apical top. At the crown the branches begin to shift downwards towards their only available light sources which I had embedded in the soil. Over an accelerated series of generations I managed to create a tree with a perfectly postured trunk, but also the aforementioned downwardly diagonal branches. The implications of the experiment should be easily foreseen, but if for some reason are not, can be found to be hinted at, though probably opaquely, in numerous ecological journals to be included within the bibliography of my life’s work, which as of yet has not been produced. This is not a matter which falls upon my shoulders though because my life’s work is complete.

2. Through an accidental discovery I was able to successfully teleport miraculous quantities of light through quantum entanglement. The natural supposition stemming from this accident was that I would be able to teleport time itself, allowing time to travel to one, thereby not risking the harm of the body in teleportation. I couldn’t bring the other side of the world to myself, but I could bring the yesterday or tomorrow of here to myself. This of course would explain how my life’s work could have been completed at age 22, and as it turns out, has.

3. My life’s work had nothing to do with rocks. I don’t really care about rocks. I find them boring. And it was my life’s work.

4. The unfreezing of the Yukon Horses in Siberia was certainly a big part of it. I drilled and drilled into the ice. I exhumed a few horses scattered through the uppermost layers, but they were largely incomplete—skeletons with flesh chewed off in spirals by wolves and foxes, leaving only scarves wrapped on bone. But deeper and deeper into the ice they became more absolute. Finally I unearthed the unabridged horses. I carefully thawed them from blocks, hoping to learn from their behavior. What happened then, nearest as I could tell, was that they lived backwards. It appeared at first to be a simple recoiling, but the activity perpetuated for as long, it seemed, as I would allow it. I could see the pain it caused them. I’m not proud of it, but it’s all over. My life’s work. So what is to be done?

5. I have managed to archive the moon. It’s true. You can go see it sometime if you want, that is, if you can manage to obtain a Bodleian Libraries Readers’ Card. I could try to help you, but again, my life’s work is complete, so I don’t know how much I can do. They keep it in a rather large chamber in the basement. I say rather large because it’s not quite as large as you might think. Probably the thorniest part was grafting together millions of manilla folders in order to house the thing. The sublibrarians had to abandon a considerable number of books to make room for it, but I think everyone would agree that the moon is better than a bunch of books. Cut out the middle man, in a way, you know? I’m not entirely sure what they do with it down there, but it’s not my business. Nothing is my business anymore, you see, because my life’s work is complete.

There is a doctor in charge of the archived moon. I don’t remember much about him other than he was stuffy, nor will I try to, as my life’s work is complete. I do remember his daughter. I can’t help but remember her. She liked to wave. I asked her why she waved so much, and she said that one day she would have Teacher Arms and wouldn’t want to anymore. She said it must be nice to be done with one’s life’s work. I told her yes. She doesn’t believe she is anywhere so close to her own. At night she takes the moon out for a walk. I hope to join her one day, but my life’s work is complete. I will not be doing any slogging away to receive an invitation. I’m sure you’ll understand.

Tanner Hadfield lives in Boulder, CO, where he studies and teaches creative writing. Some recent or forthcoming publications include The Collagist, Annalemma, and Untoward. He does not want to brag or anything, but he recently bought a book detailing one hundred ways to tie a tie and accomplished all of them in three and a half hours.

Art by Fabio Sassi