Listen to Me
My tow truck’s yellow flasher pulsed, lighting the empty car. The driver stood on the bridge’s railing, balanced above dark water.
His face strobed orange, then pale. Middle-aged, with eyes buried under thick brows and hands clenched in fat fists. He wore a plaid wool cap like my father used to wear. The wind snapped his pant legs, and far below, the ocean sucked and heaved.
He nodded at me. Then he jumped.
I expected a sound, but there was nothing. When I rushed to the railing, the water was empty.
He’d waited for me before jumping. Look at me, he was saying. Pay attention to me before I’m gone.
The cold wind hit me like my father’s fist. Pay attention to me, he would say before he struck. Are you listening? You’re not listening.
In the truck it was quiet. I breathed the familiar engine-grease smell, touched the duct-taped vinyl seat. I reached for the radio.
“I just saw….” I said into the handset, looking at the empty car. “I saw….Listen to me.”
Static, then silence.
“Listen to me,” I said again, falling into dark water.
I’m listening, Dad. I’m listening.
Ann Hillesland’s work has been published in many literary journals, including Fourth Genre, Sou’wester, Corium, and SmokeLong Quarterly. It has been selected for the Wigleaf Top 50 Very Short Fictions, won the grand prize for prose in a Spark contest, and has been presented onstage by Stories On Stage. She is a graduate of the MFA program at Queen’s University of Charlotte. Visit her website at http://annhillesland.com.
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