by Jules Archer
It happens in a split fraction of a split second.
She’s riding shotgun — watching her sister Jill steer the Ford Bronco with firm determination and listening to her chatter about the trip they’re finally taking together, about the baby, the blues and all that jazz Jill had gone through last spring — when Natty makes a choice.
They’re heading to Tombstone, AZ. Jill in her cowboy hat and Natty in a Coonskin Cap Davey Crockett would be proud of. It’s only when the cops come later that she wishes she would have rethought her hat choice.
The deer glides in front of the Bronco and Jill shrieks, jamming her foot on the brake. In that second, Natty pictures what her future would be with one false move:
Big Gulp in her left hand, remote control near her thigh. Three months cooped up wearing those horrible sweat pants from her college years and her husband’s novelty t-shirt that reads: Cougar Hunter. She’ll eat take-out most nights and curse the book she won’t get around to writing.
She can’t not write. Writing is the reason she drinks black coffee and spies on her neighbors for fodder and loves her hands and keyboard-chipped nails.
So when Jill shrieks and the brakes slam, Natty doesn’t brace herself against the dashboard with a firm palm. It’s all too real; she can hear the crack of the arm, of the radius and of the ulna. Feel the bone splinter up the elbow like a wishbone.
Instead, Natty lets her head take the fall and smashes her face.
And when the cops come, muttering impressive about the nature of deer in Arizona, staring at Natty in her ridiculous cap, and telling her that a concussion is possible, she just holds her intact wrist like a beautiful torch.
published 9 August 2011