by Paul Crenshaw
I am four feet two inches tall. My bed sits sixteen inches off the ground. My dog is two feet tall, although I dont know if you say dogs are tall like you say humans are tall. The flower outside my window is nine inches tall. The yellow bird that landed on the windowsill is four inches tall. My Ben Kenobi toy is three inches tall. His light saber is three quarters of an inch tall. My father used to be very tall, but now he is not so tall. He slumps around in his chair. He is no longer as tall as he was. The tree in our front yard is sixteen feet tall. I measured it by climbing up as high as I could and dropping the tape measure. I had to guess a little.
The tape measure was a Christmas present. I found it on the floor. I call it a Christmas present because I didn’t get a real Christmas present this year.
My chest of drawers is four feet six inches tall, just a little taller than I am. On the door to my bedroom are marks of how tall I used to be. The first mark is three feet four inches tall. The second one is three feet six inches tall. The next one is three feet ten inches tall. The fence in our backyard is four feet six inches tall. My father’s truck is six feet tall from the cab, and four feet tall from the bed. The tires are twenty-seven inches tall, the same size as our tv. The neighbor’s cat won’t hold still long enough for me to measure it. I suspect it is somewhere around one foot tall.
My mother is five feet four inches tall when she is standing up. When she is lying down she is only eight inches tall, plus the two feet the bed is above the ground. When the man from next door lays on top of her they are eighteen inches tall together, plus the two feet the bed is above the ground. When my father was standing in the doorway watching them he seemed very tall, like seven feet tall.
The refrigerator is five feet four inches tall. The kitchen table is two feet six inches tall.
I found the tape measure on the floor. It is orange. The man who used to make my mother taller when my father wasn’t home dropped it. He was running because my father seemed so tall. Now he doesn’t seem tall anymore.
My room is twelve feet across one way, and eight feet the other. The road is thirty three feet away from my window. I am four feet two inches tall. I am almost as tall as my father.
PAUL CRENSHAW is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he was a Fred Chappell fellow. His stories and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Best American Essays 2005, Shenandoah, North American Review, Southern Humanities Review, and Hayden’s Ferry Review, among others. He teaches writing and literature at Elon University. The above piece was originally published in Rhino and is reprinted here by permission of the author.