When I was a teenager, my brother’s dog died after getting hit by some asshole speeding down our country road, the dog too close to our property’s edge. I went with him to pick up her body. I carried a sheet and tried to tell him not to look, to let me go first. But she was his responsibility, and he knew it hurt me to look at suffering. She was dead, though her body convulsed, so he took his shotgun to her head. He said it was to be sure he wasn’t withholding mercy, but I think he just wanted to see what his bullets could do. Still, he told me to look away before he pulled the trigger. Once, when my father yelled at that same brother instead of me, I didn’t know what to do with myself. So I snuck out my bedroom window and sat on the faded green tin roof with my sixteen-year-old knees pulled underneath my chin. My brother came up the stairs after my father stopped hollering while my mother watched approvingly—always approving of anyone’s shame but her own. He called out my name in a harsh whisper. “Rachel! Where did you go?” I poked my head back through the window and laughed. “I can’t believe that was you and not me down there for once,” I said. He laughed, said it wouldn’t last. And he was right, it wouldn’t. We jumped off the roof, his knee coming up against his lip hard, drawing blood, but still we ran fast. Our father stormed out the front door and yelled but didn’t make to catch us. We went down to Lakeshore Market and bought candy, and then we went to the lake bottom and scanned the mud. I looked at my brother as he threw rocks across the dried-up lake bed and thought about how I stayed awake at night until he fell asleep. Though it only happened once, I’ll never forgive him for causing me to lurch awake to shove off his hands that were trying to know my fourteen-year-old body. Fuck him for reminding me there was no safe space under my parents’ roof.
II. When I gazed horrified at the positive sign, it was my fellow river guide and friend, Scott, who stood next to me. He said, “Take another. The first one is always wrong.” I took two more and still the plus sign showed up in blue and I was pissed. Arizona is one of those fucked states with waiting periods and few clinics that provide abortions. So I