FAIL • by Kevin Wilson

Just after he had died but just before he was sent back to his body, busted-up and requiring major medical attention, Geoff was allowed to ask God a question. He was not prepared. He kept looking down at his body, thinking, “I died bad,” and wishing he had not desired internet fame quite so much. God kept telling him not to look at his body.

“Ask away,” God said. Geoff could think of nothing. “Maybe you want to know who really killed JFK?” God offered, trying his best to be patient. “Who?” Geoff asked. “You don’t have much time,” God said, checking his watch. God had somewhere to be.

“Okay, what’s the deal with sinkholes?” Geoff asked. “Excuse me?” replied God. “Why did you make ’em?” Geoff continued. God told Geoff that Jesus was actually responsible for sinkholes. “He brought it up in conversation one day,” God said, “and I just let him run with it.” Geoff imagined Jesus, thinking for days of an idea good enough for his father, coming up with something like the earth eating itself.

“From up here, a good sinkhole gives off this sustained, sucking noise and it’s pretty great,” God continued, smiling. Geoff appreciated the pride that God displayed. Geoff wished only that his own father, perhaps after the funeral, would watch the video of Geoff shooting himself out of a homemade cannon and, ignoring the resulting fatality, smile at the bravura of his only son. A ridiculous dream poorly enacted, but deserving of fondness.

“Okay,” God said, “back you go,” and Geoff found himself in excruciating pain, looking at his feet and wondering if they were still attached to his legs. He thought of what he would say to his father at the hospital, how he would explain himself. Perhaps he would tell his father that he had shot himself out of the cannon because he wanted to get free of his own life and for a moment he had felt like his true self . And perhaps his father, just so relieved that his son was not dead, would hold Geoff’s hand and nod, even if he didn’t truly understand, even if he would never understand Geoff. And God would watch this and he would nod, like he had made something good and true. And the video, uploaded to YouTube, would run on a loop for the rest of Geoff’s long life, and sometimes he would watch it, that kid, flying through the air, no idea what was waiting for him.

Kevin Wilson is the author of two story collections and two novels. He lives in Sewanee, TN.

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