I glanced at the clock, 3a.m. flashed in my vision. I was a heavy sleeper, but a gentle noise woke me up. Swish, swish, swish of an old cornstalk broom echoed in the house. He’s in the garage, sweeping the concrete. What did she do this time? His go-to ritual for calming down. I hated it.
aaaaaThrough the door, I heard him mumbling, a murmur, a litany of rising anger. Swish, swish, swish. I stumbled and barely bumped the door. It stopped. The door swung open and the cold outside air smacked me. He stood there, broom in hand, and glared down at me. Go back to bed, can’t you see I’m dealing with a flood? I couldn’t see anything beyond his gargantuan frame. Except for the broom, swept red droplets splashed the washroom tile. Swish, swish, swish.
Twenty years passed, and I forgot. The call came in, he died in his sleep and the funeral is Wednesday. I drive through the night and cover the distance in a haze. The worst part is going back. Digging through the mire, mud, and muck of memories to find that one clean image. Dirty hands for dirty jobs. I am a child again, running home to seek out forgiveness, closure, and finally, peace.
aaaaaaI don’t make it in time, but that doesn’t matter to either of us. Everyone else pays their respects as I watch from the edge of the cemetery. Before the grave diggers completely cover the casket, I toss in a handful of dirt and the broom.
Damon McKinney is an Indigenous writer from Oklahoma. He has a B.A in English with a Minor in Creative Writing. His work has appeared in JMWW blog, Equinox, Knights Library Magazine, Schuylkill Valley Journal, and Kreaxxxion Review with upcoming appearances in Rejection Letters and Versification. He is the former Associate Editor for Likely Red Press, a former Contributing Editor of Fiction for Barren Magazine, and the Managing Editor for Emerge Literary Journal.