You start a fire with old Budweiser boxes and pallet scraps. We sit on camp chairs and drink cans of weak beer as the tarantulas crawl by on the dirt road, headed south to mate. You walk up the hill behind you every day in the high heat, through the snakes and the ocotillo, up to the top and then back down again, a white T-shirt on your head to reflect the sun back into the sky. Some days a watcher appears on the hill, a spirit with a face half black and half white that looks down as you sit in the shade of your trailer. All we see are rocks that gleam pale in the dark. Someone passes tequila and the night hums louder with insects. The hill looms behind us; the stars strike a high key overhead. I wander into the road, the dirt soft under my feet, and gaze up. Someone shakes my shoulder. The stars prickle above. Everyone gathers around me, their voices distressed with the tarantulas that stream past to Mexico. Someone leans down and begs me to get up because of someone in the past who lay in a road as headlights approached. I look to the hill; I can’t see the spirit; my body floats. Everyone gathers around the fire again in its shadow.
J.R. Fenn lives in the southwest of England and lectures in English at Birkbeck College, University of London. His fiction has appeared in Neon, PANK, The Other Room, and Flash: The International Short-Story Magazine, among others.