Sniff my finger, he said. Can you guess where it’s been?
Gross, I said. Get that away from me.
He nodded his head in Tania’s direction. The couch was full and she was sitting on the arm, drinking from a red plastic cup. She was wobbling, her skirt hiking up each time she swayed.
She’s happy, he said. I can make you happy, too.
No thanks, I said. I like being miserable.
This was when his hair was still long, when he still had the blond, tousled curls of a surfer-guy fantasy. After the haircut he changed in ways I wouldn’t have imagined. Short, his hair looked darker; his face looked harder, like he’d grown up overnight. Like all of a sudden, he’d stopped being a douche.
But that night, he still was one.
I could do both of you, he said. Tania’d be into it. You could flip a coin.
His breath smelled like fake onion and garlic powder, like bright orange cheese. His breath smelled like a 7-Eleven at three in the morning. But he wasn’t drunk, and Tania was, and he wouldn’t let her drive home.
She kept trying to take the wheel, was all he’d tell me later. He didn’t remember much.
He did remember swerving and missing the first deer. He never saw the second one.
He remembered the X-ray tech telling him how lucky he was. About cervical vertebrae and fractions of millimeters. You could call it a miracle, the tech said.
It was days before anyone would give him an answer about Tania. Weeks before we got the details. An antler through the eye. What alignment of fractions of millimeters, what flip of a coin? An anti-miracle.
She didn’t deserve to die. He didn’t deserve to live, but here he is. Still in his halo, like the saint he never was.
I keep wondering, he says. If I’d let her drive home alone, would she have made it? Some kind of crazy drunk luck?
Heads or tails, I say.
is a flash fiction editor for Cleaver magazine and leads a veterans writing
workshop in Rhode Island. Her writing is published in Milk Candy Review, New Flash
Fiction Review, Pithead Chapel, Smokelong Quarterly, and numerous other venues.
[See the publications page at her website for a more complete list of
titles, many of which include links.]
Author’s website: www.kathrynkulpa.com
Savasana in KYSO Flash (Issue 4, Fall 2015)
Wendy and Brian on the Last Night of the World in
KYSO Flash (Issue 2, Winter 2015); this flash fiction is on our
publisher’s list of 100
Faves Published in KYSO Flash.