The day you sneak communion wine at Saint Mary’s, an overloaded truck barreling downhill brakes so it won’t hit Mr. Li biking uphill, a bag of lychees swinging from the handlebars, a gift for his niece after losing her job. The truck skids and seesaws all over the road to avoid flattening Mr. Li, hurtling with the kind of gravity you might recognize only after it breaks your nose or flays your kneecap, an inevitable trainwreck of weight leaving you with a badass scar to flaunt, proof you escaped another death. Some days you understand the indifferent stealth of a cat with nine lives, slipping between bars just as a guard dog snaps, jaws catching air. But when you drink red wine now you taste rubbery diesel, swallow truck treads leading to a side of the road, where a minute before your hound George squeezed through the gate, tracking fresh cat while you sipped Father Peter’s wine, tired of being the only non-Catholic at Saint Mary’s School, filing into chapel for Mass behind the others, your arms criss-crossed over your chest so everyone knows you want the priest’s blessing even though you can’t drink the Blood of Christ because you don’t belong like you do when you get home and Dad tells you George is dead and isn’t coming back.
Phebe Jewell’s work appears in various journals, including Monkeybicycle, MoonPark Review, Spelk, New Flash Fiction Review, Bending Genres, and The Cabinet of Heed. Her story “¿Cómo Está Tu Madre?” was chosen for wigleaf‘s 2021 Top 50 for (very) short fiction. A teacher at Seattle Central College, she also volunteers for the Freedom Education Project Puget Sound, a nonprofit providing college courses for incarcerated women, trans-identified and gender nonconforming people in Washington State. Read her at https://phebejewellwrites.com.