Beware of Wildlife

Ahreeda Ryter


Rick—my girlfriend’s dad—turned purple in the driver’s seat of the minivan, a rental whose timing belt screeched like a tortured cat the entire fifty miles from the airport to our vacation lake house, a rental that apparently doesn’t have trash pickup service, which we didn’t realize until I found two raccoons rummaging through a week’s worth of trash bags spilling over the top of the big blue garbage bin beside a marble gnome with a chipped left ear, which meant Rick and I had to load all eleven bags in the trunk and trek halfway around the lake to the Municipal Pay-As-You Throw Facility, which turned into a forty-five-minute drive of swatting flies and holding our breath, which made Rick turn purple and black out for four seconds, which caused us to crash into a boulder next to a “Beware of Wildlife” sign, which we anxiously stared at through the shattered windshield to the sound of FM static until the tow truck arrived, which took another forty-five minutes because the nearest auto shop was thirty miles away, which is where I finally got the nerve to ask Rick if I could marry his daughter, which means I will now and forever wonder if the nausea I feel at this very moment while awaiting his answer is from fear of rejection or from the lingering fear of death by a bobcat lured by the stench of chicken curry leftovers.

Ahreeda Ryter

is a

Guest Contributor for Panorama.

Ahreeda is a “Best of the Net” nominee whose fiction, poetry, and essays have appeared in Epiphany Magazine, The Decadent Review, The Bookends Review, Scribble Lit, Mystery Tribune, Revolute, The Roadrunner Review, Eleutheria, LAMP, and others. Ahreeda holds an MFA from Lindenwood University, serves as the Poetry Editor of Polis Journal of Literature and Art, and teaches at Central Virginia Community College.