I drifted out into waves the color of peacock feathers. They pulled me away from shore, and into a dream I’d had about my mother earlier that summer. We had been driving across one of the old bridges in Bowling Green, me at the wheel and Mom in the passenger seat. It was a bright, cloudless afternoon. Music played on the radio and we had our windows rolled down, so my mother kept waving her hair out of her face. We laughed, or at least I heard laughter. We had been driving across the bridge all day, but my mother didn’t seem to notice. She kept waving strands of hair out of her eyes and switching radio stations. The bridge just kept going, mile after mile. It irritated me that Mom hadn’t realized. With one hand still on the wheel, I reached over and touched her hand.

I put my hand back on the wheel but the skin where I had touched her turned an iridescent blue, tinged with green. A peacock stain soon marked her hand and we stared at each other. Somehow, this was how we knew she was dying. She tried to apologize, but I only looked back at the road ahead and pressed down on the gas. The bridge stretched out and out.

 

From “How We Fight for Our Lives,” by Saeed Jones. Copyright ©2019 Simon & Schuster.