Luce & Johnny
Nance Knauer

I never killed anything until I moved to Kentucky. Came around a curve on a back road and my tires slid in the gravel as I hit the dog. Some sort of collie shepherd mix. In slow motion, I swerved into a hollow thud and then pulled over to look in the rearview mirror, saw the still mound of fur. The truck door creaked and I left it open and ran back. She was gone but gave one last breath as I picked her up and moved her to the ditch. I didn’t cry because she was scrawny and had a front leg missing already and besides, she wasn’t mine.

I told Johnny when I got home that cars were evil and went against all natural laws, and he asked me did I hit something? I said yeah, a dog. He shrugged and closed the shower door and I watched the steam rise and float out the open slats of the trailer window. Maybe we ought to get a dog, I said, maybe it’s a sign, some sort of message from beyond. He made a gargling sound like he didn’t hear and I walked out to the kitchen, saw the counter full of crumbs and the lids off the peanut butter and the honey jars. I screwed the tops back on and swept the bread bits into the sink. A sweat bee landed on my arm and I felt the feather dab of its tongue and held my breath as I watched its body pulse, the sharp point of the stinger shiny against my skin.

The shower stopped and Johnny called out for a clean towel. I hollered back that I hadn’t done the laundry yet, and I heard him try and slam the shower door which never closed right anyhow. The noise scared the bee and I sucked air when the stinger slid into my wrist. I slapped too late and heard the buzz and tiny hits between the window and the screen as I opened the freezer. We were out of ice so I found a bag of frozen butter beans and held it against the pain.

Johnny stepped into the hallway and stared at me, a towel wrapped around his hips. C’mon, Luce, he said, I’m going to be late and you know what they’re like on the night shift. His mouth was straight and dark, like the line of a distant shore, and I left the beans on the counter and walked toward it, followed him into the bedroom. When I woke up later he was gone and my arm was throbbing, and I turned over in the mess of twisted sheets and remembered the hollow thud, and I still didn’t cry.