By James Gianetti

Hey dad.

We’re not there yet.

Do you ever wonder?

About what?

The deer.

Not really. 

Why not?

They’re just animals kiddo.

Do you think they like being deer? 

I don’t know. 

Seems like a bad life. 

Maybe that’s why they’re always in the road or in the open for hunters to shoot them. 

Maybe they do it on purpose. 

Do what?


I don’t think they intend to get killed. They’re just dumb.

Maybe they’re not dumb. 

Maybe walking out in the open road or field is scary for them. 

Maybe it’s the bravest thing they’ve ever done. 

When did you get this imagination of yours? What are you learning in school?

They’ve seen their friends get killed the same way. 

Maybe even their mom or dad. 

Still, they walk across the road during busy times. 

I think they know when the men with rifles are in the woods too.

They don’t know any better.

I think they do. 

Let’s change the…

Did Uncle John want to be a Transformer like Optimus Prime?

I don’t think so.

Mom said he didn’t like being himself anymore.

That’s right.

She gave me this action figure of Optimus Prime two birthdays ago when I turned nine. 

She said it was Uncle John’s favorite toy growing up. 

Yeah. It was. 

It’s my favorite now too.

That’s good. Keep playing with it back there. We’ll be there soon.

I wonder if he felt scared or brave.

I’m not sure.

Is Mom going to be sad when we get to the funeral?


Will she be crying?


Because she loved Uncle John. 


When did he die again?

He died in a car accident. 

Not how. When?

About a week ago. 

A truck hit him.


Mom said his head was sick too.

That’s right. You’re not supposed to drive when your head is feeling bad.

But he wasn’t in a car though. 

No. He wasn’t.

Do you miss him? 

Yes, kiddo. 

Life does not end at the death of the physical body. The soul lives on in a counterpart called the astral body. The astral body is made of astral matter and resides in a world not unlike this one, called the Devaloka or Second world.


You asked what I’m learning in school. 

That’s what I learned.

A teacher taught you that?

No. I read it in a book. 

I also read some tribes believe that you become whatever killed you in your past life.

Kiddo I…

I think that’s why there are so many deer in the world Dad. 

I don’t understand.

People die in car crashes all the time because they hit them or swerve out of their way. 


Maybe that’s why they’re always in the road. 

Maybe they don’t like being deer anymore and want to be human beings instead.

I think you’re being…

Maybe they’re not dumb and they know exactly what they’re doing.

That’s enough of this foolishness for one car ride. 

Maybe Uncle John wanted to be a truck. 

Like Optimus Prime.

About the author

James Gianetti is a writer from New Jersey. His short fiction and work have been published or is forthcoming in Hearth & Coffin, Mayberry Review, Collective Unrest, Hobart, and Cold Creek Review. His debut novel, The Town of Jasper was released in 2017. He received an Editor’s Choice Emblem for his short fiction from Hearth & Coffin Literary Journal. Beyond writing, James teaches middle school special education in New Jersey. You can find him on twitter @Jamesgianetti or at

next up...


By Michelle Champagne