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by Jayne Martin

Jackson woke to find himself curled up in the bottom of the cracked and rusted bathtub that had long sat at the back of his weed-choked property. He shivered as much from last night’s binge as this morning’s chill and reached for the paper bag containing the half-pint of Jack Daniel’s. Tipping the lip of the bottle to his own, he savored the last remaining drop.

Eighteen-wheelers blasted by on the new highway that cut through what had been fields of corn, oats, and soybeans. The farm had provided a decent living up until then. The pittance they’d been paid for their land didn’t begin to fill what had been lost. The bank would stake their claim to what was left.

His bones protested, sending spikes of pain up his spine as he tried to move. Soon the sun would rise and another day would arrive to taunt him, just like all the others since the night when he’d felt the bicycle twisting beneath his pickup’s wheels. He’d been drunk then, too. Hadn’t seen his boy playing in the driveway.

Through the thick pre-dawn haze, he looked toward the house where Theresa would still be asleep in the bed they no longer shared.

The truck driver would later say he thought he’d hit a coyote. Newspapers would call it an accident.

Jayne Martin lives in Santa Barbara, California, where she rides horses and drinks copious amounts of fine wines, though not at the same time. She is a Pushcart, Best Small Fictions, and Best Microfictions nominee, and a recipient of Vestal Review’s VERA award. Her debut collection of microfiction, Tender Cuts, from Vine Leaves Press, is available now. Visit her website at jaynemartin-writer.com