Spirit of the White Owl
“How?” Rachel hissed at Ethan as she stood over the still body of their
Her fists were balled at her sides. She had wanted to pummel him when she
had smelled beer on his breath. Ethan had his chin on his chest and looked
up at her sheepishly, like a kid who had wrecked his dad’s car and knew he
was in for it. Only it wasn’t a thing, like a car, that was destroyed; it was their
son, her soul. Did Ethan feel the enormity of that loss?
Ethan cleared his throat and paced around the small, sterile hospital room
as he told Rachel what had happened on the fishing trip.
“We had just eaten lunch, and I was walking up river hollering for Chase
when I heard some other fishermen shouting.” He told Rachel they had
found Chase’s body just below a large rock. The side of this head was
bruised. Apparently, he had slipped, hit his head on the rock and drowned.
“There was this weird rock formation on top of the big rock—looked just
like a turtle from a distance…I figure Chase thought it was, you know, a live
turtle and waded out to take a look.” He had looked away from her then,
but she saw no tears on his face, heard no sobs, like those welling up inside
her own chest.
The turtle. The damn turtle.
The guilt had started that moment, the slow burning in her gut that had not
relented since. At the hospital, looking down at her son’s battered head,
she felt responsible—she had allowed Chase to go on a fishing trip when
she knew Ethan drank with his friends-- but she couldn’t own that yet, so
she had turned on Ethan.
“Where were you? How could you let him wander off by himself while you
got drunk with Mike and Todd?”
“Rachel, we weren’t drunk. It was just a couple. I told him to stay on the
bank, but he’s nine, you know. I didn’t want to baby him.”
“Baby him? He was my baby, you bastard, my baby, my only one. And
you killed him!”
Ethan had flinched, but said nothing more. Rachel ran from the room
leaving him with Chase’s lifeless body.
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