“Look, lady,” said Randall, nervously tugging at his overalls. “We had a work order from the city. This moldy old ash was tearing up the sidewalk and interfering with power lines.”

“Yeah,” said Malcolm, fingering the ripcord of his now-silent chainsaw. “And after you screamed at us, and waved that carving knife, and then screamed at us while waving that carving knife, we had to get the police in on it. It’s a lawful work order.”

“They’re right, you know,” said Officer Hartman. His pistol was holstered, his pepper spray can in a limp hand at his side. “It was a legal cutdown order, legally served, on an ash that we had every reason to believe was endangering the common good.”

All three men were surrounded by the detritus of limb-shearing and trunk-felling that accompanied cutting down a tree in a residential area, even if the residence in question was a filthy double-wide trailer occupying the site of a long-ago demolished house. All three of them were looking skyward.

“Well, be that as it may,” said Freja, the dirty and disheveled occupant of the double-wide who had first quarreled with and then bodily threatened the city treecutting crew and their escort. “That doesn’t change the fact that you just cut down Yggdrasil, the great ash that has held up the sky since time immemorial.”

She, too, was looking up…looking up at the great cracks which were crisscrossing the robin-egg-blue sky, and the first small fragments that were beginning to fall.

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