You teach me to drive on roads that sometimes end in tobacco. Today, the road pauses on a dog. He appears before I can stop.
I look in the rearview mirror and see he's not a dog at all but a raccoon. He runs into the grass even though I thought I'd killed him for sure.
"Mom," I say.
"Keep your eyes out there," you say and point to the spotless road in front of us.
You don't blame me. No one's blaming me, but you say you found something weird on the family computer.
I sit at the kitchen table and scream in my closed mouth. There's a desktop folder where I keep pictures of men kissing each other. I deny myself anything stronger, though lately I feel like kissing might be the strongest stuff of all.
"Videos," you say.
I hold a pencil like a cigarette and exhale relief. I've been sketching the raccoon I hit and getting it wrong. He looks like our dog.
"Not you? That leaves your dad and the dog."
You whistle. The dog ticks across the hardwood. You squat so you're nose to nose, and you say to him through sudden tears, "What do you want to look at kids for?"
Tonight, there's no moon. I take the dog for a walk. He barks at every cricket.
When we return, Dad's in the driveway smashing the computer with a hammer and you're in the living room tearing pages from a mystery novel.
I console myself by sharpening pencils in my room.
You and I try to watch a movie, but the dog gets sick during the previews. The vomit's black. The dog shivers. He drags his fur through the vomit to get warm. He's dead when we stand up.
You light a vanilla candle. I wear grocery bags as gloves and lift the dog into a cardboard box. You say you'll scrub the oil from the carpet while I dig a grave out back. As if I've done it before.
I find Dad smoking in the woods at the property line.
"At least I never touched you," he says.
He tries to touch me now. I hand him a shovel and the dog in the box. He darts forward, kisses me on the cheek, and says goodbye.
In a dream, a rattlesnake bites me. Its fangs break off in my skin. I wake up before I can discover if I'm the first person whose blood defeats venom.
We have pizza for breakfast. You pick off toppings and throw them on the floor for the dog even though the dog is dead.
"Shit fire," you say when you remember.
I draw a cartoon of Dad holding a raccoon like a baby.
You cover your mouth with both hands. If you're crying, you're crying somewhere I can't see.
"It's OK," I say.
But it's not OK.
We're not OK.
Our blood is jelly, and we're dying faster than we can ever heal.
--Editor's Favorite Award, 2015
Casey Hannan claims to have had eight epileptic seizures, but he might have had more in his sleep. Snakes often bite him in his dreams. If you're looking for him, lift up a rock or a log. Failing that, try casey-hannan.com.