Hometown shanty. by Kate Cavanaugh (she, her)

You grew up afraid deer would tangle in your high beams. A dark road unraveled to the sound of the radio and took you to town. You’d pass salt piled high for the winter roads and think about climbing those grayscale mountains until Adam said you’d die if you did. Suffocation by salt. Take in the ocean air. A neighbor with no use of his legs built a boat in his driveway. Sail away.

You forget to breathe for days at a time. The same songs remind you of different men. A stupid Stoicism podcast said Seneca used his evenings to examine the day’s actions, and you wonder if anyone kissed him goodnight in the same soft way you kiss yourself. If the day is a mirror, then the night is a bowl meant for holding. No one’s surprised you since 2019 and before that 2011 and before that you fall asleep and dream of your childhood bedroom.

You grew up somewhere charming. A couple of newlyweds passed through on a road trip and then they were your parents. No one is the main character in this story. Salt in the wound and the tide comes clean and cold. There’s nothing surprising about nightfall except a headlight. Nothing surprising about the road except a deer. You inhale and exhale to the sound of a boat being built. And somewhere, far from here, a song begins.

Kate Cavanaugh is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York. Her work has appeared in Bibliopunk and sour cherry mag.