My brother guilts past my room, a sign he’s up to no good. He’s wearing my new hiphuggers. The hems drag the shag carpet. The jeans are way tight. The zipper teeth strain half-mast. He bolts and I chase him down the hallway. He splits that zipper he is so dead. He hauls into the kitchen and grabs a dish towel. Grinning, he helps our mother dry dishes. “Stop running in the house,” she says.
“But he stole my jeans!” She drops forks, knives and spoons into the silverware drawer, not missing a beat, plink, plink, plink. “Give your sister her pants back.” He strips and hurls the jeans at me. I examine the zipper (intact) and rummage the pockets for God knows what. Matches. Rolling papers. Twenty bucks stuffed inside the coin pocket. He’s never worked a damn day in his life. “You need a better hiding place,” he says and flips me the bird.
He’s along for the ride when I buy my first car, a beat-up white Karmann Ghia. Problem, it’s a standard transmission and I can’t drive a stick. Somehow, he can. He’s fifteen, has no license, a fact of no seeming consequence when our mother deems him my driving instructor. “Just this one time,” she says and drives off in her Vega.
We head for country roads. I watch for cops. He revs the engine and pops the clutch at the light, a state trooper in the next lane. The car rocks and stills. He is fearless. We’re going to jail, I think. The signal flips to green. My brother pulls away without (being) a jerk and tells me never rest my foot on the clutch, you’ll burn it out. I adjust the mirror on the passenger sun visor and watch the trooper slip behind us.
I hit a deer in that car. The road was clear and then it wasn’t. I slam the brakes, mash the clutch and throw the stick into neutral. The deer pulls itself up and runs away. The deputy sheriff examines my gashed hood and said, yup looks like deer damage though he thought most deer in these parts had been hunted down and eaten years ago. A couple weeks later, I hit a duck. A Muscovy. Flies straight out in front of me. It dies sitting straight up. If I didn’t know better I’d think some redneck lost a hunting decoy out the back of his F-150. I park and sob and watch the neighborhood kids walking to school stop and pet the dead sitting duck. The Karmann Ghia doesn’t last a year. I loved that car. I think of my brother when I see one. He didn’t last long either, but I remember him healthy and alive and as confident as the day he handed his fake driver license to the state trooper and asked for recommendations on where best to teach his sister how to drive a stick.
Sheree Shatsky writes short fiction believing much can be conveyed with a few wild words. Recent work has appeared at trampset, Fiction Kitchen Berlin, Bending Genres, Virtual Zine and New Flash Fiction Review with work forthcoming at The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Fictive Dream and Saw Palm: Florida Literature and Art. She is twice-nominated for Best Microfiction 2020 by Fictive Dream and MoonPark Review. Read more of her work at shereeshatsky.com . She tweets @talktomememe.
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