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My father wears dark bandanas. That’s his thing. The one time I saw his head without one, I was ten, passing by the cracked door of his room, and there his bare head was, like a floodlight, round and direct because he was looking down to pray. The image was a pair of scissors to every nerve in my eyes. But the feeling wasn’t negative, just an idea of how things were offstage. My father gets stomachaches from the stress of things he refuses to share with others.

Today, my father has a minor procedure—an endoscopy—and dies. I get the news and drink the amount of water people usually cry out in these situations, to keep my mouth occupied, to keep from biting at the air that supposedly holds God, who supposedly decides.

But as soon as I picture the procedure, I know why. My father, heating under the paper gown as the drugs flooded the red pathway to his heart, his teeth rupturing from the pressure of holding them shut as long as he was conscious enough to keep the things inside him from being discovered. The long tube going in, bending with the curve of his sleeping throat, the concentrated tip of light searching for whatever caused him discomfort. The instrument reached the center of him, illuminating what was meant to survive in darkness.

I dream about my father tonight, standing in the middle of the yard he mowed too often, lighting several fires to the white bandana on his head.


Amy Scharmann currently resides in Gainesville, Florida, but will soon be moving to Long Beach, California, with her fiancé. Her work has appeared in the Flash Fridays series at Tin House, PANK, SmokeLong Quarterly, Bodega, and elsewhere. She tweets @AmyScharmann.