Excerpt from "The Hungry Ghost"

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Before the crash, Sam had not known she could die. She had known other people could die—her ex-husband had gone close a few times, leaning back in his lawn chair, booze-dazed and heat-dazzled, convulsing in a shuddering seizure she had not imagined his soft body capable of. Peter’s death had been a constant dark shadow at the edges of her universe; she had dreaded it and anticipated it at the same time, because when you were married to an alcoholic, that was what you did: you woke up every morning and you asked yourself, “Is he going to die today?” And you were so caught up in sick fantasies of his death that you never thought about your own death, not in a conscious way, not in a real way, not until it was in the process of bearing down on you directly.

It hit Sam like that—in a flash of light on the night she might have been happiest. Through the slick of the rain and a spill of oil, the steering wheel was wrenched from her hands as she went up the hill and tried to bear right but the semi came barreling down.

It was the noise that hung in her mind the longest, after the brilliance of the headlights had faded away. The blare of the semi’s horn, yelling—

Watch out!

Too late.

It was over.

 

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