From Daugh­ter of End­times

The Iowa Review - - NEWS - Sarah he­ston

My pa­ter­nal fam­ily be­gins in es­cape. Guns, knives, hawk feather, car—one word, we’ll be gone. Un­til that day, ex­haust smells like work. He lets me know it’s time by back­ing up a metal beast into the car­port, cloudy hands cradling our lit­tle house. The early morn­ing free­way of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia coos, my father revs an en­gine un­til it screams down, down the hall­way into my bed­room, and I yell from bed that I’m awake al­ready so he doesn’t have to break some pol­lu­tion code. Trevor yells back to me, his teenage daugh­ter, well if you’re awake al­ready, why don’t you come help me drain the brakes? Since it is true that I am al­ready awake, that I am cold enough in­side our home to see my breath in the win­ter months, and in the other months I am a child with tight fists, wait­ing, I oblige my father. In the way ex­haust binds us in this rit­ual, I know we are as ex­alted as the beater char­iot that will take us from the city when it’s time. I emerge from my room know­ing my father has a Volvo driver door open for me, which he has learned af­ter bruised years not to close on my leg in haste to get us on the road. I could pun­ish him later for each truck door shut on me in the early years of his fa­ther­hood, but that will be when we are both well enough to tease, that will be when we are safe in some canyon as Los Angeles burns to the south. I have pumped the brakes so many times al­ready that as a teenager I rest my eyes, lis­ten for my father’s words of go or now, and I drop my head into the god we know, a large Volvo steer­ing wheel with braided plas­tic or leather, and pray, which means sleep, which means for a second know that to­day we stay. Our house doesn’t know a vac­uum for months, but our ve­hi­cles get the purr of a Snap-on shop vac, this beau­ti­ful red-and-white ro­bot made like they used to be, a thick-fun­neled ma­chine I can wrap my arms around, and some­times do. Af­ter the brakes there is ce­real, some­times with a scoop of vanilla ice cream be­cause there aren’t women around to tell us not to, and there is or­ange juice and vodka for Trevor be­fore 1995, but that is done by the time I’m a teenager, done with by what is now, which is the fu­ture, which will be closer to the end than I could have fore­seen. Boom. But be­fore that end, many things will al­ready be gone for­ever with the drink­ing. We will have learned that men can change. My father will not be as hard on me. He will not tell me do it again ev­ery time I do any­thing. I won’t have to prac­tice, demon­strate. He will have

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