D. had a little pug-nose and her Mom, T. said — it is really your best feature! — but D. did not believe her, and would look at the mirror and feel self-conscious about her nose until once when she was out drinking with her friends a really good friend said — look! look at her! — and there was a woman getting a lot of attention – and her friend said “her nose is like yours…you have a cute nose, D.” and D. was able to accept it, when she had not been able to accept it from her mother. Things turned around for her. When she felt she was beautiful, she felt she lived in a beneficent world. She woke up in the morning and stretched her arms and legs in the winter sun. She felt glad to be alive.
One morning D. was driving to work and she was glancing at her phone where she was texting a friend who had asked her a question about an issue she was having at work. D. put her eyes on the road, but then she wondered if her friend had responded to her previous point, she glanced down at the phone, and she hit a seventeen year old killing him. She kept driving, she called her mother and her mother said — just don’t tell anybody. It was terrible but why ruin two lives. So when the police spoke to her — an officer named Mike — she said she had not been there. Of course her car was on a camera. They had her dead to rights. She was convicted in court of vehicular homicide and publicly shamed.
In prison D. had dreams that she was a cow in a humane slaughter house, being driven by sloping passageways forward forward, never seeing the room with the bolt gun until the very last moment of her life.
When she woke up she would try to imagine the very last moment of her life. She found she couldn’t. She would ponder whether this meant her life would have no last moment, or there were things she could not imagine.
When she got out she took care of her mother T. who had lung cancer, and when T. died, sold the house where she grew up in and got the money that was left over after they paid the taxes and split it up: T and her brother J. and his wife Terry.
She decided to take Amtrak to Florida and look for work that would help her not think.
Eating a cheese sandwich from the dining car and watching the suburban landscape outside go gradually from winter to spring she saw her face reflected in the train’s window. Next to her, a Hmong woman held two large paper bags between her legs full of glass containers of baby food, milk cartons, and ten pound bags of beans and lentils and mushrooms. D.’s heart felt elated; it drummed its feet, and for a moment she felt nothing but eye.