Mom says good morning.
“Guess what . . . we did . . . came up with . . .
one telesaleable looked in. The man . . . his hair . . . man . . . hairdo . . . really tragic. I want . . .
I want . . .
Shauna to get . . .
my free pancakes.”
She falls back asleep. I go into the kitchen, flip on the coffee.
I have no idea what kind of bug this is. It’s half the length of my pinky, with the strangest coloration: thin, white, clear, spiny filament. Multiple filament legs and
antenna—albino centipede. Perched on a box of Farina and I swear it sees me with bright blue pinhead eyes. I’m scared to kill it in case I miss and it burrows in my nostril or ear canal like in the B movie that birthed it.
I grab a paper plate, smush it—don’t miss—wipe bug guts off the smiling Farina boy, throw the plate away and open the front door. Bougainvillea snakes untamed around the collapsing fence. The thermometer on the porch reads eighty-six degrees. My eyes adjust to sun and wildflowers and heat through the screen. I press my hand against it, hard enough to etch the wire squares into my palm. Fully awake.
Why did that alien insect reminded me of ocean . . . crab? The legs? No, the color . . . scallops!
They’re the same translucent white with blue eyes. YES.
Scallop eyes are iridescent blue. Cerulean. Bizarre but pretty.
Walking behind Mom’s bed, I hear her say, “I wish Shauna was here.” Her voice is clear and slightly heavy, but this is impossible because she’s asleep.
Hearing this, I know I’m dead. Lived fast and died pretty. Or not pretty at all. From the weight of her voice I’ve been dead for a very long time. I have no words for this feeling. Because it didn’t happen it can’t be déjà vu.
But it’s the same fishbowl vertigo vision and fluttering heart.
If many small things had or hadn’t happened.
If Diane had hit the brakes a second later.
If Sierra hadn’t met me after work.
If the pills had stayed down.
If Brent’s gun was loaded when we were then I wouldn’t be here.
It’s very simple.
I’m overwhelmed by the enormity of simplicity.
The dizziness of simplicity.
I blink and shake my head.
I’m gripping the bedpost.
I’m reaching for Dad’s glasses.
She’s still asleep.
He’s gone to get a haircut.