Riding cross country in my grandparents’ RV was a childhood summer staple. Usually starting in the Badlands of North Dakota or the Black Hills in the South, we’d trek westward, following the Oregon Trail or hopping from historical monument to haunted mansion all the way back to their home in Northern California.

But this day, my grandfather drove a new route. We were heading eastward for once, away from the wild west and beautiful mountains. This day, we were heading home, which was suddenly empty and sad and unwelcoming. Instead of fighting with my brother, as these RV walls still probably remembered, we sat in silence. I was sleeping more than staying awake. I wanted nothing to do with the bleak and flat Nebraska plains that stretched out, hopeless, on all sides.

My phone rang. I’d been avoiding the numerous phone calls all day. Over and over and over – ring/END, ring/END, ring/END. But I didn’t know this number. Maybe it was work. Maybe I needed to answer this time.

“Hello.” I didn’t ask. I muttered it. Hello. What. Who is this and what do you want.

“Hi, Kim?”

“Yes.”

“This is Josh.”

Josh. I know lots of Joshes. Which Josh was this.

“From church.”

“Hi.”

“I just heard – how are you?”

It’s impossible for a human to calcify into stone in one day, no matter how bad that day is. Even on the worst day of my life, I hadn’t been able to block out the number one emotion that overcomes everyone when their dad’s stupid body suddenly stops doing its job and shoves their dad out of its nostrils and into the air. My heart suddenly burst into water, pushing itself up through my lungs and throat and nose and eyes. My brain exploded, throbbing blood pouring out my ears. My nerves sparked, and I went numb.

I could hear my pastor’s voice buzzing from my phone, but could do nothing to focus on his words. It was so kind of him to call, and it killed me. All I could do was try to hold everything in my mouth.  Blood and water and teeth and unbearable life. When Josh finally stopped talking, there was a long pause that said everything. Thank you, but I can’t talk yet. Or maybe ever. But thank you.

“I just want you to know that we’re here for you.”

.

.

.

“Okay.”

“Okay… Bye.”

END.

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