by Sarah Krenicki
He found out his brother was dying on a Tuesday.
He'd never said the D word over the phone but it
hung unspoken between them mixed in with phrases
such as
cranial bleeding, brain surgery and unknown
—phrases that don't really accompany a
chipper diagnosis.

He wished his brother luck and thought about his
options for a good while, just staring at his own
reflection in the mirror and mulling over the
alternate timelines before coming to a conclusion. He
had the business card in his wallet; it was originally
for a gas station that may never have existed but
that wasn't relevant, even if the gas station once sold
gas and handed them out like candy. But what gas
station had business cards? He'd never seen one

The number on the back was printed in pen and
though the card had gotten wet at some point, the
ink had never bled. Underneath the number was a
sentence, not even a sentence, more like a phrase:
“knockoff miracle 10 cents.”

It had just been stuck in between two loose pavers in
an alley, not inches from his face as he was hauled
out of a bar in '98. Since then he had come to the
conclusion it hadn't been left by any follower of God,
nor any follower of Satan either. Just some asshole
performing knockoff miracles that really did just cost
ten cents, in money. In reality, they cost more. He
knew what he was going to ask and he knew already
what was going to happen and he was ok with that
after the life he'd led, had been leading, coming face
to face with more alleys like that one in '98, the
bottoms of more bottles. His brother had kids. He
owned a hardware store and had a short wife that
made apple pies and their Christmas cards were
nothing less than idyllic.

For the first time he thought that the card wasn't just
left by some asshole at all, and he laughed when he
dialed the number. He still wasn't sure which big guy
was behind this whole thing, but whoever it was had
a damn good sense of humor.

The voice that picked up on the other end was the
same, exactly the same as the voice that picked up in
'98 and '05—the same inflections, words. Ageless,
genderless, and surprisingly jovial. Some ageless
asshole working on his own for the hell of it, or
maybe not on his own after all.

He said he wanted his brother to live and the voice
paused. It was a bigger request than he had ever
asked before and he paused too, afraid the guy or
girl or it was going to say it was impossible. And then
the silence broke and it was agreed upon and he was
nodding and assuring the no longer so jovial voice
that he understood
what that meant and then it was
over, it was done. Ten cents was charged to his

Four days passed and nothing happened except his
brother got sicker and he got drunker. He'd decided it
was a wash, a dud, and downed his whiskey,
muttering about his damn ten cents and his fucking
brother, his own goddamned brother.

He slipped on the way to the bathroom and bounced
freely down the stairs of his apartment, too impaired
to flail or grab hold of the railing. A neighbor found
him two hours later with his skull cracked and blood
oozing out of his eyes, nose and mouth.

Four days after the fall, his brother got a clean bill of
health. “Miracle,” they said in the office, repeating it
as he left the exam room in a haze.

When he got to the parking lot something caught his
eye. Stuck under the left wiper of his car was a
business card. It looked like it had once been for a
gas station. But what kind of gas station handed out
business cards?

Sarah Krenicki is a recent college grad trying to see how long
she can use the term "recent grad" to describe herself. Her work
has appeared in Amygdala and the Reverie, and she also is a
contributing writer for Literally, Darling.