Myfanwy Collins

Obtuse, Not Equilateral

All winter long, the dog looked off into the woods and barked more often than normal. There was something out there. Most likely it was deer.

Sitting in her office, a pillow on her chair to placate her sciatica, Lila read online that a hundred years ago there were half a million deer in the United States. Today, there was something like 20 million deer.

Still each time she saw one it was still like a special gift. The fragile-legged fawns.

Once, she’d seen a starving deer while she hiked in Bryce Canyon. It had been too lethargic with want to run from her, just stood and stared at her with what looked like a festering teen angst. She’d told a park ranger about the deer but he advised her to let it go. There was no saving the creature. The world was tightening around the deer, expanding and contracting in equal time, forcing them closer and pushing them farther away.
The backyard was a glacier. Snow piled upon snow, crusty and brick-hard. The dog skittered around like a crab, seeking out rough ground to cling to.

But the birds were lightening; the gold and house finches starting to show their bold color again. There was hope. And the news that a boy in Lila’s neighborhood had taken part in a murder in late September was beginning to fade for most people, but Lila could not forget. In fact, she felt she might be a part of it. That it was her fault in some narcissistic way she could not comprehend.

Here were the facts: This boy and his friends had broken into the Greek Revival home of a young couple and stabbed the husband with knives from his kitchen and beat him with the hammer from his toolbox. They killed him. The wife was left alive, though barely. Beaten and raped, one of her neighbors found her tied to her bedpost.

Lying in her bed at night, listening to the wind roll hard and low over the salt marsh, Lila thought of her wrists bound, her legs puddled beneath her. How her heart would beat and push the blood out of her body swamping the carpet, so carefully picked out to match the pale stripe in her accent pillows.

The murderer boy’s family were neighbors to her, though she’d never spoken to them, only noted them as a cast of characters: mother, father, son, daughter.

When she first heard the news, Lila printed a map of town off Google and taped it up to the wall in her office. She marked her house with a yellow pushpin, the murderer’s house with black, and the victims’ house with red.

The line from the murderer’s house to her house was closer than the line from either her house or the murderer’s house to that of the victims.

The lines formed a triangle. Obtuse, not equilateral.

Myfanwy Collins lives and writes in Newbury, MA. Her novel, ECHOLOCATION, is forthcoming from Engine Books in March 2012 and her short fiction collection, I AM HOLDING YOUR HAND, is forthcoming from PANK Little Books in August 2012. Please visit her at: