Calamity Jack

By: Myles Allan

The parties on the ranch would never really end, mostly because we would forget what we were celebrating once we sat down. The lanterns above the porch flickered to a dim buzz a few hours before midnight, the streamers were still hanging idly from the scaffolded awning above the backyard and Tony’s hand-me-down stereo was playing a country-western tune that only the cicadas knew the words to, the tape skipping on every other note. My cousins were chasing fireflies, holding onto them long enough to wish their bodies could glow too, before releasing them back into the sticky summer air. 

I walked out past the tall grass, looking into the oblivion that stretched indefinitely towards the horizon, the land flatter than the flapjacks my mother would make the next morning. Burnt bacon, raw eggs. I sat and spoke to the sky for a few minutes, though she didn’t have much to say. Not that I would take her advice, anyhow. 

The stable emerged from the plains like a body buried beneath the sand, the head fighting suffocation while taking a survey of the wallpaper taped behind me. I walked into its mouth, allowing myself to be eaten. I had enough beers that night to convince myself that I would just be spit back out. 

I walked up to Calamity, horse flies flicking off of her flanks, and opened the stall door. She stared back at me like she knew the day I would die. Like she understood the global crisis in the Middle East. Like she had opinions about our neighbor down the street and her new haircut. She snorted out a breath, lifted her head and clicked her hooves against the wood shavings on the floor. 

“Have you figured it out yet?” she asked. 

I shrugged and took a seat beside the wall, falling asleep as each of her eyes tried to figure out if I was real.