48.1 - Winter 2019

Page 71

own separate spaces, retreated into them, protective of their sanctity—protective of these bodies that still belonged to us. The distance between us was a palpable force. I could sense my father’s capacity for compassion was limited in this state of shock. He didn’t appear particularly concerned about me. To any passerby I would have seemed perfectly fine, but his lack of distress still amazes me. Instead, he simply turned to me and offered a brief synopsis of what happened—We hit a deer and that’s all. We hit a deer—the implication being that the accident was merely a coincidental encounter with a deer. Our speed and pleasure had no bearing on the outcome. Even at that age, I understood that my father was constructing his own reality and to speak it aloud was to acknowledge it as truth. I understood my father’s position and registered my expected role in the matter—in the lie. He did not elaborate or clarify why this was the way things were and I didn’t question it. I resigned myself to his silence, felt the weight of its impenetrability. The mechanics of story and truth had been newly presented to me and I obeyed. It was the nineties, cell phones were still rare and my parents had never owned pagers, so we had no way of contacting my mother or a tow company, though who’s to say we would have. After all, my father’s intent was to conceal what had happened and control its aftermath. So instead of calling for help, we set out toward home. We decided to take a shortcut along the bayou to get back. I trailed silently behind my father, the chirping of crickets the only discernible sound around us. As night is wont to do, everything was coated in deep purples and indigos, the surrounding woods a dense thicket of black. It was strange to think we’d caused a disturbance here, a place that thrived on its estrangement from the standard commotion of our neighborhood. After twenty minutes we finally spotted our street. While it was a much faster route, our shortcut also provided a bridge between both sides of the bayou in the form of a thick red sewage pipe. This is what we would use to cross over. Like the obedient duckling I was, I followed my father as he scaled the pipe, scooting 62 | PHOEBE 48.1