"Gut" by Silvia Signore

I’m in the backseat of my mom’s Honda Odyssey and she’s driving me to the airport, my grandpa who is visiting from Italy sprawled across every inch of the passenger seat, sleeping with his head so far back I can see his nose hairs dance with every heavy breath accentuated by his snoring, and in that moment, as I’m inspecting my nonno’s nostrils I have this weird premonition, like something was going to happen to him...

only it wasn’t going to happen to him, and maybe this is because I am on my way to visit my friends at my old school for spring break, and maybe this is because I’m anxious to go back to a place I left so quickly, so eager to leave such a toxic environment for my happiness, so anxious to insert myself back into this microcosm of my left behind world, and next thing I know my thoughts are interrupted by the jolt of the car stopping at the United departures drop-off and I lean in between the two front seats to kiss my mom and my nonno goodbye and I bump my head on the roof as I lug my suitcase out of the car, thinking great start to the trip, and next thing I know I’m entering my best friend’s car at LAX and we make our way back to that campus that no longer felt familiar but in some aspect still haunted me with familiarity, and we went to the school concert that was being held that day, but my friends weren’t satisfied with the view so they suggested going onto the roof of the art building, but I’m a goody-two-shoes and I hate breaking rules and I also hate climbing fences and I feel like this is a bad idea guys but I am supposed to show them how much happier I am in my new life I can’t show them signs of the old me, but then I try to shimmy between the two sky blue rods in the fence and my phone starts to vibrate, and thank god I can postpone this activity I didn’t want to do in the first place a little longer, thank you Ryan for calling me at this exact moment, you’re my hero, but why is my brother’s best friend calling me, sure we’re friends too but this seems a little odd, “Hello?” “Silvia, Luca is in the hospital,” and everything goes silent, the booming bass from the concert nearby that was making the sky blue rods, one in between my breasts and pressed up against my face and one grazing my back tremble in unison, disappears into a consistent ringing, as my eyes began to burn not from the nearby marijuana smoke but from the knowledge that my brother, my best friend, my companion since 1994 was in danger and every word that comes out of Ryan’s mouth seems to echo in a circle like the hypnotizing song on a carousel, bike accident, broken jaw, spinal fluid leak, maybe paralyzed, not responsive, ICU, and I snap out of my paralysis when he repeats for the third time to call my dad who is currently flying back from Florida, how is my dad not there, is my mom there, why am I not there, why am I in this place I don’t even like, doing something I don’t want to do when my brother is getting his biking outfit that I helped him pick out cut off his body, already covered in dry blood, when he’s not able to hear the questions the paramedics are asking him because his ears are leaking blood, when he can’t tell them that due to his shitty timing he wasn’t able to stop his bike going downhill before hitting five deer that were crossing the road because his jaw is hanging out of place, why is it that all I’m able to do is collapse to the floor, still caught between these two sky blue rods, and wish I had listened to my premonition and not gotten on that plane that took me back to the last place I wanted to be.