When the Mustang swerves across four lanes into his path, he has no time for a flashing life. “Now?” his mind asks. He will die with his front seat full of generic butterscotch pudding packs for his pregnant wife. He will die with one hand slamming the wheel and the other full of a half-eaten Honey Bun.
“Do-overs,” his kindergarten self whines in there somewhere. “I can do better.” He is holding a rake in the yard when he turns to see that his mother, there just a moment earlier, is nowhere to be found. “Jesus can come back anytime,” his Sunday school teacher had said. “You’ll look around and your family and friends who are right with Jesus will be gone.” He drops the rake and turns searching circles, expecting to see her work jeans and plaid shirt in a pile on the ground, sneakers in the mud with the socks still inside. The panic builds in his chest. When she comes from the other side of a tree, he almost collapses with the relief of “No, not yet, not yet.”
One good and proper near-death experience. Maybe, he thinks as his wheels hit the rumble strip and the cars behind him slow to give him room to pull back onto the road, maybe this is something he can add to the short list of things that have happened to him in his life. Best two out of three. He will not die with these five extra Honey Bun pounds. He will not die with her belly full of a pill-defying baby. He will not die with his bank account full of twelve hundred dollars, with rent coming fast.
Kasey Thornton writes about the South with a focus on religion, mental illness, abuse, and grief. She earned her BA in English from Elon University, and attended the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and North Carolina State University for her MFA; during this time, she studied with Wilton Barnhardt, Nina de Gramont, John Kessel, Cassie Kircher, Rebecca Lee, Jill McCorkle, Drew Perry, and others. Thornton lives in Durham County, NC, where members of her family have resided for over 200 years, and she has been featured in Eckleberg, Masters Review, Colonnades Literary & Art Journal, and Apeiron Review. Her debut novel, Lord the One You Love is Sick, depicts one group’s efforts to live a modern life in a traditional Southern town.