An Excerpt from Trevor J. Houser’s PACIFIC

CAPTAIN AMERICA WAS HERE

I HAVE A family. In the gray island-mists north of Seattle I have them. We bought a house in a place called Wolf Island with big Asian maples overlooking Padilla Bay. That first spring I drank wine on the porch and felt so proud. Sunlight through the mist and mossy trees. Feeling like life made sense. Do you know that feeling?

Except now we have a child who might die.

No one is sure. So many children die. But this is our child, so it’s different.

He has a rare brain disease. Like so rare if you say it in most hospitals they look at you with eyes that are kind but vacant, like a trout’s eyes as you lower it back into a cold spring stream.

Now I sit on street corners. I sit there and look at mountains or apartment buildings between me and the mountains. I sit there and look at cars and houses and lawnmowers with icicles on them.

Once we spoke to the doctors and they laughed. We all tried to laugh. We all tried to make it like it was something we could control. It was something humans had power over like the stock market or electronica. It was something that didn’t make you want to go back in time to when the world was saturated and beautiful and untouched. That was a different person. That was a person putting a little blue sweater on this boy. He hated hats. He hated putting on shoes. He hated so many things.

Now we go to the doctor and laugh.

He looks at nurses and makes jokes and runs up and down the halls and they laugh. Bells. Stars. Planets go by. He is underneath all of that and he shows God what it means. God probably looks down. God looks down, I’m sure. God watches him and his rare diseased brain that is so rare and diseased his pediatrician had never heard of it.

One afternoon, I cried over the sink while eating an avocado.

It was an old avocado that I ate still in its cling wrap as more clouds formed above our small, lumpy yard. I was eating the avocado and looking out at our yard, the mysterious lumps, the sky, the trees. I just sort of smooshed half the avocado into my mouth, thinking of my son. His brain has blood vessels that are too large. His small heart. His small heart is so small.

I could become important. I could drive a speedboat over an iceberg with the Dave Matthews Band playing on the prow and nothing would change. I could become a Navy Seal, the best ever, and his brain would still have too much blood inside it. Those vessels would become enlarged. His eyes would widen as we watch some muted game show on the TV that’s bolted to the wall surrounded by other children facing the possibility of death. His brain would expand. Or it already has.

On Sundays, we play Captain America.

He has the pajamas with the stars and stripes. He runs so fast and jumps nearly over the bed. He runs and jumps on the bed and makes this noise that isn’t a scream but has the same energy of a scream.

He makes noise.

He jumps and laughs.

Pacific is available as an ebook and paperback. The book releases on November 23, 2021. Preorders can be made at unsolicitedpress.com or wherever books may be sold.

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Unsolicited Press

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A bold, egalitarian small press in the PNW.

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