Word was she walked the streets at night, talking to herself about vines she needed to pull from the yard. She slept in fields, built fires for warmth and left before dawn, wearing only a purple fur-collared coat that dragged the dirt, leaving trails of lines, wiping out her foot prints. She ignored and/or destroyed sign posts, spray painted over trail blazes so others would have a chance at knowing what feeling lost was like.
She was my daughter and this is how I’d raised her, apparently. I didn’t know any better, I suppose. Never read to her or explained what had caused me to shoot a hawk that had eaten our chickens. I lied to her. Told her it was a hyena. Showed her pictures of them snatching food straight out of people’s mouths. For this she repaid me with madness and became a skulking human monolith, a Max Schreck of the Georgia countryside, existing without reason, daring sensibility or discovery to ask for this dance. In some not altogether deplorable way, I became proud of her, started defending her in gossipy circles, and recognized the kind of individuality that might develop into one of the finest folk tales these parts had heard in some time. She’d certainly leave her mark. I smiled out of half my mouth but kept a distance, always being cautious from now on where I stubbed out my smoke or tossed the whiskey bottle.
Bruce Miller long ago earned an MFA in fiction from Goddard College. Since then, he’s spent much of his energy teaching college level composition and literature. He’s also traveled, documented music from various parts of the planet, and written on the subject for a number of publications, including Magnet, Rootsworld, Signal to Noise, The Old Time Herald, and The Oxford American. He currently lives in Takoma Park, Maryland, where if he had it his way, he’d spend more time than he already does playing fiddle.