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F IC T IO N

He watched it through the window. With its stunted forelegs folded under its body, it looked more like a donkey with a mare’s head, like Balaam’s ass, senselessly caned for its reverence. It was easily eight hundred pounds, twice Thomas’s size and four times his weight and yet bowed like a martyr in prayer for a gentler fate, for a few more good years and an owner who would not forsake him to fend for himself in the storm. Thomas willed it to stand, not to beg. Three times Balaam punished his donkey, and three times it spared his life from the wrath of the Angel of God. Thomas’s father used to read him the story. But the mule did not open its mouth to ask ​What have I done to you, that you have struck me​? It wailed desperately from its chest and strained with the effort of rooting itself to the ground so that nothing could move it—not the rain that would flood every square inch of Osage County, not the hailstones that struck at its flesh, not the deafening wind that pried houses intact from their foundations. For a moment, the storm seemed to consider its penitence. But then it was gone, the whole thing wrenched brutely into the air by its thin-ankled leg. And he felt like the last man on earth. He sensed a sudden relief in the weight of the car, a tentative half-inch of levitation— how unlike what he had imagined, like falling away into space, into infinite inertia where everything only ever falls and could not stop falling, even if he wanted it to. First they wanted to see the car. He said there was nothing special about it, it was just a sedan, but they asked to see and take footage. He said he supposed they could. It was just that it looked indigent now, wary and bloodshot, with scars on the doors where the wind had scoured the paint down to nothing but bare metal. Its front windshield was webbed with a labyrinth of fissures like ruptured veins, the world reflected in gray-green miniature in each of a thousand shards. One of the wipers was missing, and the other lolled brokenly from the frame of the car like a disjointed arm, dangling by black rubber sinew. They made sure that was in the shot. And the man with the necktie, and Thomas, round-shouldered, his hands clasped at his waist because that was how he stood in photos, or whenever he wished to look smaller. “What do you remember?” The sun burned lucid yellow in the sky, and the man’s hair, which was dyed very black and parted senatorially over one eye, shone with a greenish patina that made him look old in spite of himself. He raised the microphone to Thomas’ chin. “I remember the storm,” Thomas said. The man nodded as though this were profound and blinked at the camera, an earnest blink for the good folks at home. “What do you remember about the storm? Did you see the tornado?” His voice was the voice from the radio, the clear, narrative tenor. ​Seek shelter—expect strong winds and quarter-sized hail. “Well, it was dark,” Thomas said. “But it was loud, it sounded like every noise you’ve ever heard all at once. The wind screaming—not like a person screaming because people get hoarse and lose their breath, you know. And the wind just goes on.” “It picked up my car,” he added, and the camera trained its cyclopic glass lens on his face, squinting, lest a poignant tear should fall undocumented. “My God! What did you do then?” asked the man. “I survived.” “You survived,” he echoed. “Yes.” “And what will you do now?” Afterward they drove him to Tulsa in the news van because it was their duty to him

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Profile for Ivy Leaves Journal of Literature & Art

Ivy Leaves Journal of Literature & Art — Vol 93  

The Ivy Leaves Journal of Literature & Art is an annual student publication at Anderson University in Anderson, SC. The journal has served a...

Ivy Leaves Journal of Literature & Art — Vol 93  

The Ivy Leaves Journal of Literature & Art is an annual student publication at Anderson University in Anderson, SC. The journal has served a...

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