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Nathaniel

Mary Ogle is the author and illustrator of Orangeroof Zoo, a whimsical tale of magical realism told through the pages of a coloring book. Working as a professional artist in the digital medium, Mary's commissions have included everything from fine art to fan art, book covers, illustration, and book design. Find more of Mary's work at maryogle.com. Mary currently finds inspiration in the Ojai Valley, residing in a snug little cottage with a recalcitrant cat.
Nathaniel remembers this. The leather wrapped around the steering wheel stays cool beneath his grip. His fingers are clenched tight and his hands are losing feeling. Now they are as numb as the rest of him. He knows every dip and crack in the hard-packed dirt of the road. He knows which tree branch will strike the roof of the truck. He knows he will kill a man.
Nathaniel doesn't try to swerve when the hunched figure steps out in front of him. He remembers this. He doesn't flinch when the body flies up and over, hitting the windshield and leaving jagged cracks that disfigure his vision. The sound of the body rolling off the hood is like an echo and his feet leave the pedals as the truck rolls to a stop.
Nathaniel swipes at his face with the back of his hand and opens the door and leaves the truck because he always does. He walks back along the road and steps into a pool of blood. The man is lying on his back in the weeds and dirt. His eyes are wide and foam leaks from his gaping mouth. His shirt is white and red stripes. His slacks are brown and muddy and torn at the knee. He is bent at an unnatural angle.
Nathaniel does not bend down. He does not check to see if the man is dead because he always is. He turns his head and catches the eye of one of the players leaning into the viewing port. She shifts back with an annoyed huff. She raises her hand and beckons to one of the techs who stand in the shadows. They approach and lean in to whisper. She nods at the quiet words and flicks her wrist in agreement.
The game is reset. He remembers this.
The End
This story was first published on Monday, December 21st, 2015


Nathaniel's story grew out of my own feelings of helplessness in the face of a family tragedy. I am at an age where horrific events have lost their power to shock. Now they arrive cloaked in a film of grim inevitability. Somewhere in the past few years my rage against the vagaries of life turned into grudging acceptance. I like to think Nathaniel soldiers on because no matter how many times he experiences the same thing he somehow knows that one day it will change.

- Mary Ogle

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