Tunneling

by nicolecallihan

I am forever riding shotgun in a little brown Honda under a faded blue sky. My mother is driving. Sometimes she closes her eyes and tells me she is taking a nap, says to wake her if I see any big trucks coming, and I yell, tell her it’s dangerous, until she gives in and laughs, shows me she had kept her left eye open. A truck screams past, and I am tunneling.

I am fancy dancing on the moon, that’s what they called it, fancy dancing. I learned it on the reservation, but my dad lives inside the moon, and he can’t sleep with all the dancing. Horses, he says, and bangs the inner mooncrust with the long handle of a broom. His ceiling is crumbling; his wife is having trouble hearing.

But the stars still sing. Slews of them. In the third of the four decades I’ve lived, my brother, Joe, and I sat in a kitchen drinking beer and telling jokes. For ten years straight we did nothing but laugh about passing the butter and the cat on the roof. Every two or so months one of us would go out to buy smokes but we’d come back fast, and we’d miss the other the whole time we were gone.

Decade one was for Heather and me to run around in dirty bathing suits sipping Cheerwine and eating French Onion Dip; decade two, they tried to clean me up; decade four is mostly dreamy houses and milky bliss. Oh, and hunger. Sometimes I am hungry.

And I am tunneling. We are waiting for an exit. Mom says there has to be something eventually but we have been driving for years, and there is nothing. So we keep driving, and I remember how there are afternoons when I am playing my daughters and burying my head into the beautiful sweet smell of them that I think, I was pregnant with a boy once. I think, This might have felt so different.

But that was forever ago: it was the summer when it rained so hard the walls were soaked, the summer when Eva fell into the pool; dad came back from the moon; my brother, done, pushed his chair away from the kitchen table, stretched his arms into the air, said, I gotta go to bed; and mom and I, finally out of gas, sat in a field of upended Cadillacs waiting to be saved.

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