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The Herd

A block away from home, my sun-pinked neighbor approaches from the opposite lane. We pull to a stop. His little boy's asleep in the back. We roll down our windows and size up the brownness of our lawns, those jokers in Congress, the world after we're gone. A hive of wasps zoom up from underneath his car and swarm the little boy, stitch-stinging his face.

"The Christ!" I say, rolling my window up. "I'll get help!"

He waves me off. "We were thinking of moving anyway," he says. "This neighbourhood..." He trails off, his eyes moist with pride: his little boy never makes a sound.

I get home and race to the upstairs bathroom, rustling through spray cans beneath the sink, when I hear noises on the first floor. I live alone. I look down the staircase to see a lion walking up. I climb out the bathroom window on to the garage roof. Grizzlies shake the spruce tree on the front lawn. Zebras rummage the trash. Giraffes lick power lines and cobras and cats hiss at each other while the too-quiet squirrels watch from the trees, and above it all the turkey vultures, hating and waiting, always. The lion roars at the bathroom window. I leap from the roof and hit the ground running. What was the driveway's a vast and dusty plain, and I'm running thunder, life-loud and part of the herd.

Story by:

Matthew Miranda

26 February 2013

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