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Rick pulled the car off to the shoulder, really more of a patch of grass between two trees, and killed the engine. For a moment, the universe was total darkness, and then, in his writhing nervousness with the darkness, Rick caught a glimpse of the moon, luminous and bald aside a scattering of diamonds, and could make out large windows of brightness along the road, separated by the shadows of the trees.

He opened the door and as he stood, the silence in the tight car dissipated into the emptiness of the road vanishing in either direction. In the shadow of one tree, he could make the shape out. Remorse had already lodged in his gut, but the sight of the deer seemed to winch his insides tighter - a reckoning with the permanent and irremediable nature of his actions.

He told himself that it was an accident and in the same breath told himself that he’d been careless. He repeated it, then abandoned the thought and his mind wandered into the next steps until his thoughts came right back around. “It’s not my fault. It was an accident. But I wasn’t paying enough attention either. So it is my fault.”

He felt a burp wiggling through his belly and escape his mouth, and suddenly felt a wave of relief, followed by a burst of stomach acid that tasted of bile and beer suds, and burned his throat.

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