Flash Fiction: The Bump by Brittany Terwilliger

I know Scottie is a little shit and when he cajoles my dad to let him take the 4-wheeler out I scream a little inside because I know he’s going to do something stupid, but my dad lets him go anyway, probably thinking it’s better to just let him break a wrist or an ankle and learn his lesson, except he doesn’t learn his lesson, he comes back twenty minutes later saying he’s not sure but he thinks maybe he hit something, says it looked like a mongoose, which makes my dad snort and reply “you didn’t hit a mongoose,” but Scottie swears that’s what it was and asks us to go check, so my dad and I head for his truck and Scottie says he doesn’t want to go, which is typical Scottie, so we go without him, idling slowly toward the spot he described, windows down, cold air biting our foreheads, until we see it, a red fox, lying in the middle of the road, not dead, every few seconds lifting its head to look around, unable to move its body, and it has the sweetest, most soulful eyes, like it knows us, and my chin starts to tremble, and my dad says “oh my god,” and I say “Dad we can’t just leave it here,” and he says “I can put it out of its misery,” and tells me he’ll leave it up to me, and I imagine how scary we must look from down there, this big growling machine approaching his defenseless, paralyzed little body, and I hate Scottie so much, back playing video games in our warm house because he’s too fragile for this, and I look at my dad, both of us huffing tears, and say “do it,” and the bump-bump never leaves my body.

Brittany Terwilliger is the Managing Editor at Pithead Chapel and her novel, The Insatiables (Chicago Review Press) was published in 2018. Her short fiction has appeared in Ghost Parachute, Five:2:One, Ponder Review, and elsewhere, and has been nominated for Best of the Net and selected for Longform’s Fiction Pick of the Week. Find her on Twitter @Brttnyblm.

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