Late for the last ferry back to the mainland and real life, heads still half jellied from the campsite’s farewell joint, we burn down open road as if pursued by maniacs, past a blur of browning pines, past black-and-yellow placards warning of deer and hidden driveways. Even through sunglasses the world ahead’s too bright, and for a split-second in the final stretch it’s like we’re speeding at a stand-still, like the shifting pool of grey mirage at the blind turn in half a klick is a checkpoint we’ll never reach.
The truck’s engine’s so loud we have to shout to speak, so we don’t. Just sit in our sweat and shoot panicked looks at the dashboard clock, willing the minutes to last longer as we race to the end of another one, barely dropping below seventy when the wet haze lifts and we take the corner at a wild lurch only to find what’s waiting.
Stopped afterward and angled in the road, one of us turns to look back while the other stays immobile, eyes squeezed shut like a toddler trying to vanish. It was a deer, the one who’d turned says, and then we’re moving again with our past put behind us.
But all acts hold their meaning in the witness, and though only one of us looked back to clarify, we both saw what was there. In the weeks and years to follow, we learn to doubt and pretend, but never for long. We make a promise of silence we often break when drunk. When one of us wakes the other at witching hour with phone calls or fists to a front door, hysterical, needing to be calmed down, reassured, threatened.
We still made the ferry, though. It docked late. The last ones on the last sailing, smiled at and shown where to park by retired men in reflective yellow safety vests.
RORY SAY — Rory is a Canadian fiction writer from Victoria, BC. His work has recently appeared in Short Fiction: The Visual Literary Journal, Flash Fiction Magazine, as well as on the podcasts NoSleep and Nocturnal Transmissions.
Art by DREW DIONNE — Drew is an illustrator and digital artist based out of Maine. He makes art for his enjoyment on his Instagram page @sketching_randomly.