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The Wet Burn This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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I know they got him. There’s a family of them in that tree there and they got Clark and now they got Georgey, I said looking straight ahead at the pine in the darkness, my wooden chair rocking under me.

I heard them chirping, the babies, and I’ve heard them before too.

Father had come outside seeing as I was out there waiting for the cat. He had gone off somewhere and hadn’t come back. I knew it was the opossums in the tree. I had lost a cat before, and I didn’t get to put his body in the ground, so I was going to sit outside and if I heard a bone snap in those wet pink mouth’s I was going over the fence into the thick and low limbs of that tree and getting me something solid. Memories don’t do when it comes time to bury. They’re too fresh when its time to put them under and they spoil a slow and moldy sadness.

Father said something to me when I had come down from trying to ease my mother. She was too hardened though, and I’m not sure I said anything I figured would’ve helped. When I came down from her room he saw the wetness in my eyes and put his hand on my shoulder, and with a smile, more because he didn’t know how else to put his mouth, he said he was proud or happy or surprised that I could care for the cat like I did.

You think so? Opossums?

His voice elevated at the so, just a formal skepticism.

Yea, I know so.
I continued to sway on the chair and look forward. My eyes must have been wide because I remember how cool the night air was on them. I remember the burning the wetness caused when it first came to my eyes up with my mother. Like magma they coated and upset their surface.

Then father spoke of some stars walking farther into the yard to gauge some point of interest far from here. I didn’t engage with him, so it went back to the cat.

He said, well maybe he’s at in Jack’s yard, Or maybe even up past that.

Me: Yearmphh.

He: You know there’s something strange about that family. You seen the wife that guy has? She’s like 19 years old, and she’s got like four kids. I mean, something bizarre is going on up there.
Silence
You’ve seen her right?

Yea. She’s gotta be 26 or so. ‘

Her? I don’t know…

Yea she’s a Pacific Islander. They look young and keep their skin tight. That’s all. I’ll go talk to the neighbors in the morning. Maybe they took him in. It is late after all.

I got up from the chair and there was a moment there where we both stayed steady, waiting for a small ring the bell and the brown eyes of Georgey to glimmer green in the night as his little paws flicked him across the wet grass and with his tail undulating like a charmed snake we’d say in a low pitched voices, “Georgeyyyyyyy…” and he’d raise his head to our hands and ‘purr’ deep as we patted his side and heard the hollow thuds echo in his stomach.
Fools who thought that fate knew humor in its chance and inevitable moldering, as if by resigning our hope some high chaired angel would say “ok, I guess I had my fun,’ and swallow back up the dogs of war.

We sullied back inside and as I closed the door a small gray form appeared and looked absently up. Georgey in the flesh. We snagged him up and my dad said lets go up to your mom’s room.

We both creaked up the stairs, foot after foot and I thought to myself, ‘ that son-of-a-b**** made me cry,’ and I smiled a wide and high smile as we pushed through the door to mother’s room, Georgey in hand.





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