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If a Tree Falls in the Forest . . .
by Michael C. Keith

Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced.
–– John Keats

The last thing Brandon was about to do was point out the obvious to his fellow commuters. If other drivers didn’t see the glimmering obelisk that towered above the highway at Exit 11, it was their loss. How could they not see this incredible object? he wondered. Why am I the only one looking at it? Its ever-changing colors were more than awe inspiring to him. They were captivating to the point that on a couple of occasions he had almost driven off the road staring at the unique vision.

Finally, one day at work it got to him that nobody had even mentioned the existence of the breath-taking sight. Not a single soul claimed to have seen it, even though many of his cohorts took the exact same route to work as he did.

“Come on!” he exclaimed, frustrated. “You can’t miss it. It’s incredible! Reaches to the sky . . . for heaven’s sake!”

“Where is this thing again?” asked his cubical mate.

“At Exit 11. You were in front of me this morning getting off the highway at that exit, Gil, and you’re saying you didn’t see it? I saw it, and I saw you.”

“I guess not. I’ll look for it on the way home.”

“Can’t fathom how you overlooked it. It’s tall as a skyscraper and changes . . . first blue, then red, then green, then something else. Some shades I’ve never even seen before. Can’t even describe them. ”

*          *          *

The next morning Brandon was eager to get his fellow workers’ impressions of the Protean column, but to his astonishment, once again no one seemed to have seen it.

“You guys are just pulling my leg, and it’s not funny either,” protested Brandon. “What’s wrong with you people?”

His fellow telemarketers just shook their heads in confusion and went back to work. Idiots! thought Brandon. Obviously, they’re blind. Well, too bad for them.

On his way to the office the next day, Brandon became so entranced by the morphing obelisk that he lost control of his car and drove right into it. For a moment everything went black . . . and then he heard a man’s voice.

“Sir, are you all right?”

A state police officer peered at Brandon through his driver’s side window.

“Yes . . . yes, I’m fine, officer. I can’t believe I’m not dead after hitting that tower.

Tower, sir?”

“The one changing colors right back . . .”

The lawman opened the car door and took hold of Brandon’s arm.

“Sir, please step out of the car and breathe into this device.”