Jennifer Gravley works at a university press on an industrial boulevard. Her work has most recently appeared in Naugatuck River Review, La Petite Zine, Awkward, and Plain Spoke.
My father decides he no longer wants to be a part of the patriarchy, shoots himself in the balls. He feels immediate regret.
I drive him to the emergency in my mother’s car. She won’t be thrilled with scrotal blood stains on the cloth seats. I grab a towel, the heavily red, martini-patterned beach towel that my boyfriend and I kept under the bed in our rented duplex precisely for its obscuration of nether-regional blood.
My father has motion sickness and never sits in a backseat unless unconscious or under great social duress. A self-inflicted shot to the groin won’t count. I arrange the towel in the front seat, then notice my father in the back.
I thrust the towel at him. The blood is already pooling.
“Don’t tell your mother,” he begs at the hospital. This is what he’d say when he’d take me to McDonald’s in the afternoon, before my mother got off work. Then we’d go home, arrange ourselves in front of the TV, and eat dinner a second time once she’d made it.
I fill forms, sign my father’s name.
Doctors and nurses, strangers, patch him up.
I find the car inside the hulking structure, toss the towel as trash. I use the pay phone to arrange a trade-in on the car.
At home, my mother will attend to him, the brute evidence of his guilt. She will protect me from its consequences.