Late Rumspringa

Selected for the Pushcart Prize series, 2021

One morning, after chores were done, chores his boys used to do, Abraham Zimmerman told his wife through the door of their bedroom that he was going to town. He waited a moment to see if she would ask what the job was, prepared to tell her that he was helping a crew that had gotten behind on roofing work, but she said nothing and he was relieved that he didn’t have to lie.

The dogs tried to follow him down the lane. They were confused about where Abraham’s two sons had gone and so were cloying and needy. He had to yell and throw a few rocks to get them to stay.

It was a good two-mile walk to reach the county highway along the network of gravel roads that linked the community together. He knew that any interaction had the power to make him change his mind. If someone asked him to lend a hand with something, he wouldn’t be able to refuse. But he met no one.

He hadn’t been up Cording Road since the evening of the accident, but because the accident had everything to do with his decision this day, it seemed necessary to pass the spot where his boys died. There was no visible sign, and he resisted wading into the ditch grass to search for one. And then he saw, on the fence, the remnants of a bouquet someone had tied there with twine. Anyone who didn’t know about the accident would assume it was just a tangle of wildflowers blown off a windrow after haying.

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