a short story by Casey Whitworth
TWO WEEKS AFTER her funeral in the fall of the year I turned ten, Granny came back home. In the twenty years that followed, I only told a handful of people about her brief reappearance besides Dr. Mole Rat, the psychiatrist I see every other Wednesday in the strip mall by the airport. But now I’ve told my boyfriend Harvey.
“Time out, Angie,” Harvey says, still eyeing the side mirror for an opening in the fast lane, waiting to swerve around the logging truck in front of us. “Your grandmother—you’re saying you saw her ghost up in a tree?”
I turn toward the passenger window and the greenish-brown blur of the woods along Interstate 10. Harvey laughs and asks what the hell she was doing up there. When I don’t respond, he says my name. Then he says it again, all serious now. The truth is, I don’t know anymore. I know what Dr. Mole Rat would want me to say, but I honestly can’t remember what was real and what was make-believe. I close my eyes and try to conjure up the image of Granny’s face, the confusion in her eyes, like she had no earthly idea why she was straddling an oak bough in a thunderstorm.
Harvey squeezes my wrist. “You okay?”
“She was staring into my bedroom,” I say. “That’s what she was doing.”
If we weren’t driving west toward Tallahassee to meet my estranged father at The Cracked Egg, I wouldn’t have broached the subject at all. But I know my father will bring it up, nostalgically, as if our last few weeks as a family in 1995 were a silly horror film we’d watched together on the pull-out sofa. So I had to tell Harvey. I didn’t want him to be as bewildered by the mention of Granny’s ghost as he was when I locked myself in the bathroom last night, unable to stop giggling, snipping off handfuls of my own hair with kitchen scissors.
The bathroom incident, by the way, began with a phone call from you-know-who. Twenty years prior, my father let my schizo mother whisk me off to Ocala to live with Aunt Judy and her eleven Chihuahuas—without a custody battle, with only an occasional Christmas card or birthday phone call. I was nothing to him. And now, after all these years, he has something to say to me, something he can only tell me in person, so he finds my number on “the Facebook” and calls—to summon me. As if he thinks that I’m still his “baby doll,” and that the whole world is our backyard, and all we’ve been doing over the past two decades is playing hide-and-go-seek.
“I didn’t mean to laugh,” Harvey says. “I would’ve freaked out if I’d seen something like that.”
He veers into the fast lane and stomps the gas pedal. The sudden jolt of acceleration thrusts me back like a rough lover’s hand, the Mustang roaring as it charges past the stacked pines. Alongside the logger’s cab, the bucktoothed driver glances down the low neckline of my dress, at the curve and cleft of my breasts. Before I have the chance to raise my middle finger, Harvey upshifts, and we zip around into the right lane.
“Here’s what I don’t understand,” he says. “Why was she wearing a nightgown?”
“I don’t know,” I say. “I never thought to ask.”
“If I was a ghost, I’d wear a tux and a top hat.” He grins at me, pumping his eyebrows. “Never know who you’ll meet at the Pearly Gates.” He knows I know he doesn’t believe in Heaven, and he also knows I know whose ghost he’d hook up with if he had the chance. I’d given him a pass on Scarlett Johansson.
I make a contemplative noise. The truth is, Granny was naked when I found her dead body in the bathroom, so there’s no real explanation as to why her ghost would be wearing a nightgown, but Harvey doesn’t need the details.
We ride silently for a while. I almost wish I’d driven so that my right ear—my deaf ear—would be turned to Harvey and I’d have an excuse not to talk. But that’s exactly why I’ve never been the driver in our three years together. Silence makes Harvey uncomfortable.
“Hair looks great, by the way,” he says, and rests his hand on my thigh. “I like it short like that.”
I close my eyes and lean back in the seat, picturing the look of surprise on my father’s face in the diner window when we pull up in Harvey’s shiny black Mustang and I step out in my violet dress and white heels, a vision of the daughter who grew up just fine without him.
No one believed me back then. Not my parents, not at first anyway. And neither did my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Tooten. I don’t think I would’ve believed a little girl who stood up on her turn in class and announced, “When I grow up, I want to be a ghost like my granny.”
I still remember the silence in the room, all my classmates staring. Like I’d pressed PAUSE on the remote. Mrs. Tooten looked like a wax replica. Then, at one of the front desks, the freckly girl with blond pigtails who used to tease me about my snaggletooth suddenly pressed PLAY and began to sob.
“She’s outside,” I said, pointing, “out on the monkey bars.”
All the kids turned to look out the window at the playground. Granny swung from rung to rung, knees bent, just like she’d taught me to do when I was little, when she stood in the sand below me with her hand on my lower back, guiding me onward.
“Angela,” Mrs. Tooten said through a clenched smile. “Please follow me to the hall.”
Mrs. Tooten pinched the back of my arm, and I tiptoed out to the hallway, panting like a dog from the pain. She told me I was a troublemaker, a fibber, a distraction. I tried to explain what I’d seen the night before, but it came out jumbled, like a dream you tell someone at the dinner table. She escorted me past the gymnasium, her fingers twisting my skin when I asked her to look at Granny tap-dancing beneath the basketball hoop.
“We’ll call your parents,” she said, “that’s what we’ll do.”
“Not my mama,” I told her. “Please. Please.” I remember falling to my knees sputtering and pleading as Mrs. Tooten dragged me toward the front office.
Years later, when I was a senior at North Marion High and worked as a cashier at the Sweetbay on Highway 441, I would see Mrs. Tooten in the produce section and ask if she remembered that day. I needed someone to remember, someone to help me remember. But she would act like she didn’t know me. So I followed her to the dairy section to explain.
The night Granny appeared, rain had been pelting the tin roof of our mobile home since dinnertime. I was in bed early because my parents were dancing again, and they’d moved from the muted privacy of their bedroom into the living room where they were cussing and hollering and circling each other, half drowned out by the squealing guitars and screeching vocals of Whitesnake or maybe Def Leppard.
In bed, I watched lightning flicker outside. Puddles had formed across the yard. I was picturing myself down the road, behind the steering wheel of one of the old trucks in the Fairy Glen, where I would often go to play make-believe when my parents started drinking and dancing. Then lightning exploded in the front yard. There she was in the tree.
“Mrs. Tooten,” I would tell her over by the sour cream. “It was my granny’s ghost. Don’t you remember?”
“Look,” said Mrs. Tooten. “I’m not Mrs. Tooten. Please stop following me.” And then she steered her buggy away, shaking her head. The nerve of that lady.
What I didn’t get the chance to tell her is that I jerked upright in bed that night, heart fluttering like a fairy in a net, waiting for the lightning to return. Then I heard it—a slow creaking in the corner of my room. The rocking chair. Lightning lit up the room for a moment. Granny was sitting there, her skin as pale as a washed-up jellyfish.
I scrambled to the kitchen where my mother was slumped at the table. I stood in the archway giggling. “Mama,” I said. “Mama? Mama. Mama.”
She finally looked up from her wine. “Go to bed, Angela.”
“Mama. It’s Granny.”
“Your granny,” she said, “is looking down from Heaven, pissed off you aren’t in bed.”
“She’s not,” I said. “She’s not in Heaven.”
She glared at me. “You think it’s funny to say things like that?”
At that moment, Granny appeared in the archway. Her nightgown had dried, and she’d brushed out her long white hair. I tried to tell my mother.
“Stop laughing,” she said. “And go to bed. I’ll count to three.”
At two, Granny kicked the table leg, and the wine bottle toppled onto the floor. Mama lunged to her feet, and we watched red wine glugging out as the bottle rolled across the linoleum.
“I should make you suck that up with a straw,” she said. I told her it was Granny who did it, but she fake-laughed. “Do I look blind?”
As she came toward me, I cowered by the sink. Her bathrobe had fallen open—a patch of dark hair below her stretch-marked belly—and she didn’t even care. She drew back her arm and slapped me with a cupped hand, boxing my right ear so hard that I flopped sideways onto the floor. Something had popped. My eardrum. I could hear her yelling at me, but there was a furious mosquito trapped in my ear canal.
The next thing I remember is Dad laying me gently on the bed. He twisted a cotton ball into my ringing ear. I remember him pressing a hand towel full of ice cubes onto my cheek. Finally, I told him about Granny.
“Baby doll,” he said, “it was a nightmare. That’s all.” He peeked under the bed, then opened the closet, slid the hangers to one side. “See? Nothing to be scared of.”
He sat on the edge of the bed and brushed his sleeve up over his right shoulder to reveal his tattoo of Elvis Presley. Flexing his triceps, again and again, he made Elvis wiggle back and forth. “Just wanna be,” he sang, “your teddy bear . . .”
He could be gentle at times, fatherly. He made me feel like I’d always have a protector, which made his absence in the coming years all the more unforgivable.
Twenty miles from Tallahassee, I convince Harvey to take a detour off the interstate and into the backwoods. Halfway down my old dirt road, Harvey stares at the dilapidated trailer where the Folsom twins once lived. Insulation, like bloodied gauze, hangs below it. A goat watches from the overgrown yard.
“Where the hell are we, Angie?” he says, and tilts the dash-mounted GPS. On the screen, a red blip is floating through a gray void, an accurate depiction of my childhood. “You aren’t taking me out into these woods to kill me and offer me to the goat lord, are you?” He smiles at me, then returns his focus to the road, vigilant.
“Slow down,” I say.
We creep to a stop in front of a wide clearing that looks like a mini landfill—the Fairy Glen. Rolling down my window, I act surprised by all the garbage—broken TVs, a washing machine, torn-up trash bags spewing their guts—as if I hadn’t come out here in a long time.
“See the trucks,” I say, pointing past the garbage, toward the high grass at the edge of the woods, at the rust-eaten, stripped-out Fords, Chevys, and Dodges, all from the ’50s and ’60s. “I used to play in that one on the end. I’d sit on Granny’s lap behind the steering wheel—when she was alive, I mean—and we’d drive away.”
“Where to?” he says.
“Anywhere I could imagine,” I said. “Anywhere but here.”
A photographer had discovered these trucks and turned them into art, I tell Harvey, and by chance I found the photographs hanging in a gallery in Gainesville. Instantly, I recognized the Fairy Glen. The crowd around me was listening to a man with an upturned mustache and a paisley bow tie lecture about the beauty of decay and what the trucks meant, “existentially speaking.” I wanted to interrupt him. Explain what the trucks meant to me.
“Why didn’t you?” Harvey asks.
“I should have,” I say.
When my old yard comes into view through the trees, he takes a quick gasping breath. At the left side of the mobile home, the trunk of the oak outside my bedroom window is charred, ripped jaggedly below the roofline. The tree’s dead crown lies across the caved-in tin roof.
“That’s the tree?” he says. “Where you saw your grandmother?”
“Granny,” I say.
“So that was your bedroom?”
His eyes drift over the mobile home, the vinyl siding camouflaged with black mold and Virginia creeper. I regret bringing him here, I think. Showing him this side of me. I can tell from the faraway look on his face that he’s comparing the ruined singlewide to his family’s three-story brownstone in D.C. I assume that he’s assessing property values, income brackets, school districts, and possible inheritances. He can’t help it; he works at the top financial consulting firm in Jacksonville, and he’s the sort of guy who surprised me one Friday night last month with a homemade mushroom risotto, an expensive chianti, and a manila folder of detailed spreadsheets on which he’d plotted the trajectory of our future together, every little step we could take to ensure that we achieved an optimal level of happiness and prosperity and would be able to retire by the age of fifty-seven—all this before he’s even put a ring on my finger.
“Somebody’s been here,” he says, and pulls into the driveway. Tracks of flattened grass lead to the right side of the mobile home. “Come on,” he says, and shoulders open his door. “Let’s take a look inside.”
I grab his arm. “We’ve seen enough.”
He looks at me, confused. “Are you scared or something?”
“Don’t be stupid.” I turn to the window and cross my arms. “Can we just go? I’m getting hungry.”
I see him watching me in my periphery. Then, out of nowhere, he starts humming the Ghostbusters theme song.
“Stop,” I say.
But he keeps on.
“Quit it. I’m serious.”
But now he’s dancing in his seat, all elbows and shoulders. “Who you gonna call,” he says, and I slap him in the face so hard that he sits there stunned, glasses perched crookedly on the tip of his nose.
He leaps out of the car before I can apologize. Muttering, he buttons his suit jacket and smooths the wrinkled sleeves. With his arm on the roof, he leans down and glares at me over his glasses in that way that makes him look fifty years old. His cheek is bright red. “This was your idea, you know. You’re the one who chose to meet up with your dad. You didn’t have to. You could’ve hung up on him. And you sure as hell didn’t have to come out here to this . . .”
He scoffs and looks over at the mobile home.
“Say it, Harvey. Go on.”
“Say what?” he says.
“What you’ve been thinking since we first pulled in.”
“Oh, now you’re a psychic?”
“You know you want to say it.”
He sighs. “What do you want me to say?”
He stares at me, his dark eyes flitting back and forth in quiet calculations. He pats the roof a few times. “You think I give a shit where you grew up?” he says. “I’d burn this place to the ground to make you happy. But I don’t know if you even want to be happy.”
He straightens up and crosses the yard, climbs the rickety stairs, and peers through the doorway as if to prove something to me. “Hello?” he calls out, then steps inside.
I lean over and honk the horn.
Harvey pokes his head out the doorway like he owns the place. “Somebody’s living in here. There’s a generator, a table saw.”
I keep on honking until he’s halfway back to the car, looking pissed. We don’t say anything on the drive back through the woods to I-10. He stares straight ahead, clenching and unclenching his jaw. The handprint on his cheek has started to fade.
What I don’t tell him is that I drunk-drove out here three years ago, shortly before I met him, right around the time Mama died. I took a five-gallon gas can from the trunk. I splashed gasoline into the living room and the hallway, onto the curling linoleum in the kitchen, then drizzled a trail out the door and down into the darkening yard. I even lit a match.
“Come out, come out, wherever you are!” I said in a singsong voice.
No one answered me. I burned my fingers. I dropped the match.
I decided then that I wanted the mobile home to remain there until long after I was gone, to be discovered by a photographer, who’d capture images of the ruins in the late evening light, then frame those photographs in a gallery somewhere, as conversation fodder for people with the luxury of objectivity who will debate the intrinsic value of a life lived in squalor. Maybe then I’d know what it all means.
“Thank you for coming in, Mr. Barwick,” the guidance counselor said. Because of his cardigans and neckties, all the kids called him Mr. Rogers. “Now about what happened in class today, Angela,” he said. “I’ve heard about your grandmother. You must miss her a great deal.”
My father was staring at me. Mrs. Tooten had called him. He still had on the greasy mechanic’s shirt with his name embroidered on the front.
“Umm,” I said, poking nervously at the cotton ball in my ear. But I was saved from talking when Granny appeared by the dusty, fake tree in the corner. I remember clamping my hand over my lips, trying not to laugh as Granny slow-danced with the tree. But I couldn’t hold it in. I laughed and I laughed and I fell out of my chair. It was a coping mechanism that’s stuck with me to this day.
My father carried me out to the hallway. “Stand up,” he said, “and be quiet.” But the laughter sputtered out of me until he caught me by the cheeks. “Want me to tell your mother?”
I remember the disappointment in his eyes when I told him Granny was right behind him. He braced himself against the wall. He finally glanced over his shoulder, but all he seemed to notice was the hall monitor by the water fountain.
“Stay here,” he told me.
When he’d gone back into the office, I dared to press my good ear to the door. “… long has it been,” Mr. Rogers was saying, “since she found her grandmother’s body?”
I jerked away from the door. They were talking about that night. The night Granny was babysitting me, when my father was working a graveyard shift at his second job at the Chevron, and Mama got all dressed up in denim and fake leather, with big wavy hair and a stick-on mole above her lip that looked less like Cindy Crawford’s and more like a bloated tick. Granny and I watched as she crossed the yard to the Buick. I remember the chorus of “Pour Some Sugar on Me” blaring from the Buick’s speakers as she tore off down the dirt road.
When Mr. Rogers’ office door started to open, Granny yanked my arm. I staggered after her down the hallway. She lost her slippers, one and then the other, but we didn’t stop. The hall monitor blew his whistle, but we raced toward the double doors and burst outside, and then I was alone running across the playground toward the painted-tire jungle gym where I would hide until my father slung me over his shoulder and carried me to the car.
They’d been talking about the moment I found her dead in the bathroom. But that’s not what I wanted to remember. I wanted to remember the spaghetti and meatballs Granny cooked that night, and the two of us snuggled up on the pull-out sofa with one giant bowl of Rocky Road and two spoons. I wanted to remember Candyland on the living room rug, and Granny braiding my hair and painting my nails, and the two of us humming while we brushed our teeth, side by side in the bathroom mirror. I wanted to remember sitting on her lap in the rocking chair in my room, the two of us reading Where the Wild Things Are, me listening to her soft voice, thinking how lucky I was that Granny had come to live with us, and how much quieter the house had been, and how I would be safe from then on.
After that little chat with Mr. Rogers, I tried to pretend I’d made it all up. Tried to act like I couldn’t see Granny at the dinner table pulling a never-ending spaghetti noodle from her nose. To stop giggling, I clamped my hand over my mouth. But when Granny and I were playing in the yard or in the house, I’d often find my father watching from a window or a doorway. He’d stare at me, then at Granny, a sad hope in his eyes, like he wanted more than anything to see her, too.
On the night of the storm that toppled the tree, two weeks later, my parents had been dancing for an hour. At one point, Mama had a butcher’s knife and kept saying, “I swear to God I’ll do it!” I didn’t want to find out what it was, so I climbed out the window, ran across the flooded yard through the lightning and thunder and rain, all the way to the Fairy Glen. I called out for Granny. I hid inside our truck, watching the woods sway and scream outside the blurry windshield, waiting and waiting for Granny to appear beside me.
After the storm passed, I started back home. Through the trees I remember seeing the bright swirling lights of cop cars, a fire truck, an ambulance. My mama was on her knees in the muddy yard, staring at the blackened oak that had crashed through my bedroom, hands in her hair. My father stood behind her. When I came out of the woods, he turned and stared at me a while before he ran over to me and scooped me up, carried me like a newborn baby across the yard. I remember my right ear was against his chest, and though I couldn’t hear his heart beating, I could feel the vibration. He and Mama kept touching me like I wasn’t real. They told the cops and paramedics that Granny had saved me. That she was my guardian angel. And it felt so good to have them finally believe me that I never told them she wasn’t there that night at all.
In the near empty parking lot of The Cracked Egg, Harvey parks alongside a familiar-looking but run-down, rusted Buick station wagon. “Okay,” he says. “We don’t have to talk about whatever it was that happened back there. We can talk about it later. That’s fine. We can figure it out.” He smiles at me. The mark on his cheek has completely faded now.
“I’m sorry,” I say.
“About what?” he says, then winks at me. “Sit tight for a second.”
He opens his door, rushes around the front of the car, and opens mine. I take his hand and let him help me out. I feel like I might throw up. As he closes the door, I glance into the back of the Buick. Beneath an oil-stained sheet lies something shaped like a man in the fetal position.
“Harvey,” I say, when he hooks his arm in mine. “I don’t want to do this.”
He looks at me over his glasses. “It’s just lunch,” he says. “You’ll be fine.” And as he leads me toward the diner, I realize he has no idea that I’ve come to destroy my father.
A cowbell clangs as Harvey opens the glass door. I glare into the dining room, searching for my father with my most intimidating scowl. On a stool by the counter, a man in a cowboy hat turns to look at us, inspects our outfits, smiles at my heels. Behind him, a fat cook at the flattop grill is waving a spatula through a cloud of greasy smoke. Two women in a corner booth also seem to be watching us, whispering. Then I realize how ridiculous we must look, Harvey in his pinstripe suit and me in this cocktail dress. What did I think it would prove?
“Well?” Harvey prods me forward, a hand on my lower back. “Is he here?”
Then someone says my name. In a window booth, an old man in an Atlanta Braves cap—far too old to be him; too hunched, too scrawny—stands up unsteadily, his red-and-black flannel shirt tucked into threadbare jeans.
“Angela?” the old man says again. “It’s me, baby doll.”
That nickname douses me like a bucket of iced tea. All the vindictive things I’d planned to say, all the accusations and curses and taunts, all the anger in my heart, all of it is suddenly extinguished.
“Dad?” I whisper.
He takes off his Braves cap as if I’ve just begun to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and I get a glimpse of what yellowed teeth remain in his smile. I leave Harvey by the door and stumble to the booth and, for the first time in twenty years, I hug my dad and almost cry when I inhale the stench of his clothes, the sour sweat and booze and wood smoke.
After the waitress brings our food, I keep glancing at my dad while Harvey does the talking. He tells stories about our life together, using words that make me somewhat uncomfortable, like “ten-year plan” and “upward mobility.” I’m sitting by the window with Harvey on my right, by my bad ear, and I have to strain to hear him. I can tell my dad is dying. His face is gaunt, his splotchy skin sagging into jowls, those terrible teeth. As he listens intently to every word Harvey says, my dad seems to be shrinking in slow motion, and I have the strange thought that when I stand up to leave, all that will be left of him is a pile of clothes.
“Dad,” I say. “You’re not touching your food.”
He frowns at his burger and fries. “Not much of an appetite, I guess.”
“Dad.” I lean over and take his papery hand. “Are you okay?”
He bows his head as if to pray. Two-hundred pounds of muscle once, a man capable of carrying a washing machine up the rickety stairs into our mobile home. I wait for him to say something. To say it’s the Atkins diet. Or meth. I notice sawdust in the thick blond hair on his forearms, and I remember that he built all of our furniture back then—dressers, bookshelves, tables, and chairs—out of lumber he milled from trees he chopped down himself, planing the boards by hand in the shed. And I remember what Harvey said about the generator, the table saw—my dad’s been squatting in our old trailer.
“I don’t have much time,” Dad says, and looks up with apologetic eyes. He tells us what the doctors told him: ten weeks, longer with treatment. “But I want to die on my own terms,” he says, and looks out at the Buick.
I follow his gaze to the window. Outside, a thousand dead love bugs are splattered across the grille and front bumper of Harvey’s Mustang. Harvey puts his arm around me. I lean my head against him, and when he grips me tighter, I take a shuddering breath.
“I been thinking,” Dad says, “about the storm. Trying to remember what all happened back then. It’s strange. I can’t tell anymore what was real and what was just a dream.” He turns to look at me, and I wonder if he can see that I can’t tell anymore either. “You know,” he says, “until I heard your voice I didn’t know whether you were real.”
“I’m real, Dad.” I pinch my arm. “I’m right here.”
He pushes his plate aside and folds his hands on the table. “You used to say you could see Granny. It was after the funeral. You remember?”
I nod, and Harvey gives me a squeeze. I can barely breathe, but I don’t regret bringing Harvey anymore.
“Well.” Dad looks at Harvey and at the waitress by the pie rack and then back at me. He leans in and lowers his voice to a whisper. “Was it true? Did she really come back and save you from the tree?”
He stares at me, watery blue eyes expecting an answer. I think I know what he means: Is there an afterlife? Or does he only have ten weeks? And here it is: the moment I’ve been waiting for all these years, a chance to shove the knife in his chest, like he’d done to me way back when. But I can’t. I don’t know if Granny ever actually came back. I made it all up, I think. The conclusion I came to a few months ago with Dr. Mole Rat’s help was that I was only trying to get away that night and every night from their dancing. But I can’t tell my dad that. I won’t. I cover my mouth with my hand, cheeks puffing out, and nervous laughter bubbles up inside me.
“Angela,” he says.
“You okay?” Harvey says.
I try to act like the laughter is a sob. “She came back,” I say. “Of course she did.” And then I bury my face in my arms, my shoulders hitching. Harvey traces his hand up and down my back.
Later, as Harvey pays at the register, Dad asks if I want to see something. He raises his shirtsleeve and shows me his bony upper arm, the Elvis tattoo on his triceps. “You always loved this,” he says, and starts flexing. But his muscles have wasted away. Elvis now looks as gaunt as my dad, his dance like the shambling gait of a drunken old man trying not to fall down.
Out in the parking lot, at the back of the Buick, Dad pulls out the oil-stained sheet and reveals the rocking chair beneath it. He built it out of red maple, he says. And it is a beautiful chair. Harvey hauls it out and sets it on the asphalt. With one hand, he gives the chair’s back a shove, and we all watch the empty chair rock back and forth.
“I’ll make you a promise,” Dad says as he hugs me. And though I feel his hot breath on my ear, and though I sense the powerful emotion from his tightening grasp, and though I know he’s whispering the promise he intends to keep, he’s leaning over my right shoulder, he’s speaking into my deaf ear, and I don’t hear a single word he says.
Casey Whitworth is an MFA candidate in fiction at Florida State University and the assistant programs manager of The Southeast Review. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife and is currently at work on a novel. Recently, he has been a finalist in Salamander’s Fiction Contest and won the Green Briar Review 2016 Fiction Prize and the Blue River Editors’ Award for Fiction. For more, join Casey on Twitter @CaseyWhitworth_