One of Them Girls

They were drinking beers just at the edge of town. She and two of her friends were talking about school, graduation, and college. She’d been accepted. 

“My dad was so fucking flummoxed by the letters,” she said.

“What did he say?” one of them asked.

“He said, ‘I’m not surprised they accepted you, I just wonder if you’ll accept them.’”

They all laughed at that. 

They saw a truck moving fast along the dirt road, kicking up dust, it’s lights were flashing. 

“What the fuck,” she said. “That’s dad’s truck.”

It came skidding up to where they were sitting, on the hood of a car. 

It was Jimmy. 

“You’re dad’s in the hospital,” he said. “Smith Center. They took him in an ambulance.” 

She jumped off the car, the beer bottle smashed on a rock. 

“Get out of there,” she commanded. 

Jimmy jumped out. She shifted into gear and spun the truck around the opposite direction. The kids dodged gravel as the tires took hold. 

“Jesus,” Jimmy said. “You’re welcome!”

As the truck sped off in the light of the setting sun someone handed Jimmy a beer. He sat on the hood and watched the cloud of dust on the road, the truck, disappear. 

She had her foot on the gas as she steered to highway 36. She didn’t do anything but drive, hard, along the road. The fields sped by and she passed whatever was on the road. On any day Smith Center was 20 minutes away. She got there in 10. 

She barely put the truck in park, but she did, slammed the door and ran toward the emergency room. 

The doors opened and she ran past the desk. 

“Hold it!” a security guard said, “Where you goin’?”

“My dad,” she stammered. 

He knew where he dad was.  

“He just got here,” the guard said. “C’mon”

She walked into a room and there he was, attached to a bunch of machines and wires.

“Jesus Christ,” he said through his oxygen mask, “Look who’s here!”

“Don’t you fucking die on me,” she said grabbing his hand. 

A nurse rallied to the bed. 

“Hold on, sweetheart,” she said. “You can’t be here.”

“The fuck I can’t!” she screamed. “It’s my dad!” 

“Hey,” he gasped. “Little girl. Don’t fight it.”

The nurse reached out, pulling her away. 

She looked up at the nurse. 

“Can’t I be with him for a minute?” she asked. 

The noise of the machines filled the silence as the nurse considered the scene. 

“Ok sweetie,” the nurse said. “I’ll come back in a few.”

She left. 

“Daddy,” she said. “What the fuck is wrong.”

“Godammit,” he said. “Watch your language.”

“Tell me,” she said. 

“Heart attack,” he gasped. “Or something.”

She held his hand. 

“I haven’t been the best dad,” he said. 

“Don’t start all that,” she said. “Don’t do that.”

“Baby,” he said. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry we lied to you.” His body tensed up, and the machines went crazy. 

She turned around and yelled. 

“Hey!” she screamed. “Godammit, hey!”

Lots of people came rushing in. They pushed her out. A lot was happening in the room where he was. She walked out to the truck. The sun had set but the sky was red. She felt like she couldn’t breathe. 

Her dad always kept a Bible everywhere. She dug around and found one. 

“You motherfucker,” she said as she flipped the pages. “What am I supposed to do now?”

She stood holding the door open, slapped the Bible down on the driver’s seat, and found something he had marked, Romans 8, verse 21.

“Because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of God.”

When she read that, she screamed as loud as she could in the truck. She cried so hard she could hardly stand up. And kept crying, hard, for what seemed like a long time. 

The security guard had seen her but stayed away. But he finally walked toward her. 

“Hey,” he said. “Are you ok?”

“No,” she said. “My dad’s gone.”

“Well you don’t know that,” he said. “Let’s go back in and see what’s going on.” 

“Thanks, man,” she said. “He’s dead.”

She closed the door and walked back towards the door marked Emergency Room. They met her there and told her what she already knew.