You brought the 1999 film The Mummy on VHS with you wherever you went. You’d say “looks to me like you’re on the wrong side of the river” whenever anyone made a mistake or whenever I said I didn’t want to drink or smoke right now. The state moved us together until one time they didn’t. We always shared a room and sometimes we had our own TV. You called the static black and white ants. Every mother we ever had tried to correct you, then they thought it was cute and adopted it for a time, too. In a small bag, you carried the tape, a lighter, and a thin gold chain your first mother gave you. She said it was real and it was your first father’s. You never wore it, but you said that she said it was worth a lot of money, and you were saving it as a ticket out of here just waiting to be cashed. I said it had green stuff on it so it probably wasn’t real and you hit me with a jab-cross—the same combo you hit me with when I told you there was a director’s cut version of Predator where they show the fight between the tracker Billy Sole and the predator. One of our fathers laughed when O’Connell holds up the cat and says “look what I got!” (a phrase you’d say when you had something you shouldn’t); another father who never laughed and used his hands when he drank too much squirmed in his recliner when the scarabs crawl under the warden’s skin. I want to watch it now; I want to know where you are. But my kids are too young and my wife has no interest, which is understandable—it’s not a good movie, after all. She has mummies of her own that she never gets to see. So I laugh at memes in various shitposting groups (Memehotep, Wrong Side of the Riverposting, etc.), play the theme in my mind through to the end credits, picture black and white ants crawling across the screen, and wonder where you are.
WA Hawkins is a writer from South Louisiana. He's the creator and host of Micro (@PodcastMicro), a podcast featuring short fiction, CNF, and poetry. You can find his work in Scalawag Magazine, Rejection Letters, No Contact, and elsewhere. He lives in New Orleans beneath his wife's enormous shadow. You can follow him on Twitter at @WAdrewhawkins.