By Brian Wallace Baker

October 28, 2019


Cars rush up behind me, pass three feet away, the air thrumming between us as I walk parallel to four lanes of traffic. I have questions: What would cold steel feel like on the back of my skull? How many bones would shatter? Where would I land?

Years ago, in another state, I watched a car fail to turn with the road. It mounted the sidewalk, spiraled into the air, and, after rolling once or twice, came to rest in a vacant lot. Dust swirled and settled like memory.

Now, the sidewalk under my feet is oil-stained and pebbled with glass. Framed by lacerations of naked mud, curved chunks of window stare up from the grass, their lashes of cheap tint fluttering in the wind. Up ahead lies a long plastic grill, clean and sound, as if the wayward vehicle careened into oblivion, leaving only its black smile. How long has it been grinning there? A day? A week? That day or that week is all that keeps my bones intact, my blood slipping safely down its freeways.

I cross at the intersection, walk back up the road a few paces, wait at the curbside bus stop. A gleaming black pickup accelerates, hurtles past me. Its machine gun snarl slaps my skin, stings my eardrums. I don’t know if it’s the pavement or the air between us that quakes, leaving my heart sloshing loose in my chest.


Brian Wallace Baker is a Utah-born writer whose work has been published by Atticus Review, Colorado Review, Crown of the Continent and Greater Yellowstone Magazine, and others. He is studying creative nonfiction in the MFA program at Western Kentucky University.

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