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Death flew off with you

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It‘s not a body, it’s not a corpse, it’s a carcass. Its tongue lolls from its dumb, wide mouth and its blood drops slow and gummy onto the wet earth. Her father holds it up by its lightly furred ankles like a prize bass. It’s not that big, maybe younger than her, but he grins at her anyway. She’s sixteen.

Two weeks ago they roll into Luceme, haul five duffel bags into the house on Foothill Drive where the Katz brood live, cousins-somehow-removed, and after a cookout and a creme brulee pops sits her down and says, “It’s your turn, sweetheart.”

Four hours ago throwing up a wake behind her dirtbike, early March air bright like a living thing in her lungs, skinny conifer trunks in and out of her headlight. A rush of black on black to the south and she turns with a holler.

Eight days ago she doesn’t need your help, Chris, you know the rules, but you’re a doll to offer. She’ll save you a prime cut. She’s kidding! God. She’ll pull a canine for you, get it made into a necklace like the shark’s teeth that the surfer boys wear out on the coast.

Finally it’s got a wolfsbane round in the thigh, another cracked through its collarbone. It’s hissing and yelping in the mud and the pine needles, trying to howl, turning its wet face away. She steps on its wrist, gets right up close, knife at its neck, and says, “Shh.”

What’s your plan, they asked her. I am the plan, she said.