Brianna Jones was good at running. She attributed it to her nervousness, a fearful quality present since before she could remember. It was easy to grow up scared in her household. It was always loud, and not a warm, hearty, people-at-a-Thanksgiving-party loud. It was an angry-shouting, glass-shattering, door-slamming-in-the-background loud.
Tiny clots of tissue and intestine trailed down my driveway and snaked around to the backyard. Before the touch of day, I’d let Shiva out to run free from the house and I. Two hours later and still no sign of her. She’d usually come back to the front door scratching and whining to get back in; negative 42 degrees had a way of making animals panic. The cold couldn’t bother me anymore, but the sun still did—it was too bright. I grabbed a jacket anyway and headed out to look for her. She had no problem jumping the metal fence around the property. And when she didn’t feel like jumping, she’d dig her way to freedom.
Lawrence Seymour, a chronic asthmatic, died on the floor of his parents’ bathroom on the day of the party celebrating their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary.
Pineapple yoghurt. Trifle. The last few months he wanted milky things. I bought a bottle of Rémy Martin. He took a sip, made a face. ‘It’s too much now, too strong. I’m sorry,’ he said.
Fear has seeped into my sixty-year-old bones. Dread is my shadow and accompanies my every step. Terror has hollowed me out, emptied me, leaving me broken and brittle.
With eight hundred miles of road under my butt in the last three days, my blood sugar barely holding the line, a couple of old wounds still talking sass to me, whatever else was bugging me besides my errand, fell off the face of the Earth when Disher Menkin’s wife Elsie, the new widow, still somewhat of a knockout though she’d collected some flesh under her chin she’d never try to hide, a few other imperfections lost in a surprisingly good figure, hardly ever taciturn at best, said, “Where the hell have you been, Coop, when we needed you most?”
There’s a naked picture of myself in a pink envelope in my pocket. And there’s good reason to send it to an eighth grader in New Jersey.