After the plane crash, Keith was forced to live with his uncle.
“It’ll be a good change,” the therapist said. “Country living can settle a person.”
On the way out, Keith kicked over a lampstand.
The farm backed into tree-stuffed woods. Sometimes, if it was windy, Keith thought he could hear his mother’s voice swirling through the clash of limbs and leaves. She had been a songbird, off pitch, but always happy.
He discovered a brook. The water tasted crisp, almost effervescent. It reminded him of the time his father let Keith have a sip of beer.
A fish leapt, slamming down between a pair of rocks. He watched it writhe, its gills meaty-pink.
Overhead, a hawk circled. Two squirrels skittered after an invisible foe. Sunlight streaked through branches in planks of bright radiance. Near the shore, two deer regarded him for a stiff moment, then carried on.
A cone of gnats swirled over the trapped fish.
Keith saw its big eye go even wider as it sucked air.
It flapped in his hands, slick and rough at the same time.
He thought about the fish, how it could represent his parents’ accidental death, or even his own anger.
He gave it a short toss. The fish floated, glinting silver scales in the sun. After some moments, the fish squirmed, leapt and swam again.
Keith watched it disappear. He felt the sun sting his face and, for the first time in weeks, he sighed, letting himself smile.