The house sagged slightly on a cracked foundation with hollow, frameless vinyl windows. But the pond was a square-cut emerald in the brown grass, a perfect place for Irma to watch the fish bob and sink in the dark green water. She’d want a sturdy, slatted chair with a drink table beside it. She’d want some lily pads and maybe a frog. Tyson called from the realtor’s cell phone.

“I found a house.” He was out of breath and heaving.

“Tyson, honey, we won’t have cash for that for at least another year.”

Tyson imagined the boy in a ward, his thin arms hooked up to tubes and round monitors.

“We can afford this one, trust me. And it’s got somethin’ for you.”

Irma sighed. She sounded tired.

“Okay, what?”

“A pond for those Chinese restaurant fish.”

“Tyson, have you been drinking?”

I’m giving her a house, he thought. He heard her breath rattle the receiver.

“Oh, Tyson. I want to see it. I’ll come by at five.”

He hung up and karate-chopped the dust motes floating through the kitchen.

When Saturday came, his auctioneering took on a new energy, a speed and bounce that sold several head of cattle on a slow day.  He kept the image of the pond in his head and called the numbers hard and fast. He wanted Irma to see him work today, the ferocious rattle of his tongue moving ten, twenty, thirty head before noon. He drove home exhausted but buzzing, his head a hive of possibility. He was set to make Irma proud. He was on fire.

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Frances Badgett

Excerpt from “Some Awful Kind of Fear”