“Some Secrets” by Debbie Urbanski
Outside this window there used to be a tree. This is the first secret. Now all I can see is the sky which, today, lacks personality, a plain blue streaked with predictable clouds.
My neighbor cut the tree down. Is this the second secret? Let’s say, for now, that it’s not, that it is more a continuation of the first. This neighbor of mine plans to cut down more trees soon, or all of them, to make room for his decorative flower garden. As the trees root on the other side of my property line, there is little I can do about this. The violence of his solution: the men with their safety vests and chainsaws—I seem to be the only one who cares.
My kids insist they’re glad the tree is gone. They never wanted to play outside anyway. Sometimes I dragged both of them outside the house, because I did not want to be the sort of mother whose kids never played outside, then I ran in and locked the patio door—this is really the second secret, okay?—against whose glass my girl would press herself, crying, while my boy slouched around the yard ripping leaves off the tomato plants.
I have a collection of secrets—this is the third secret—as secrets beget secrets, or at least they attract other secrets to them. My collection started when I turned 10. Don’t worry, I’m not about to spill all of them now. There isn’t room here.
This is the fourth: a girl in grade school who I barely knew, the girl with the cuts on her cheeks, came up to me and softly said, “I have a secret but you can never tell.” I was thrilled by that at first, to be a secret’s keeper. And then, in deciding whether or not to hold on to it, I let her secret be lifted into the breeze of the fan in the lunch room where it settled upon every table and exploded.
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Debbie Urbanski Artist Statement:
Debbie Urbanski’s fiction has appeared in The Kenyon Review, The New England Review,
The Sun, Nature: the International Weekly Journal of Science, and The Southern
Review. She lives with her husband and two small kids in Syracuse, New York and is
currently at work on a linked story collection concerning aliens and cults. You can find her at
debbieurbanski.com or on twitter @DebbieUrbanski.