It happens quickly.
He’s driving his sister’s blue Volvo. His hands are planted firmly at 9 and 3 o'clock on the steering wheel. Intrusive thoughts swarm his head like bees, buzzing and loud. His vision blurs in and out.
There’s a brief flash of wiry vermillion fur and the echo of a startled yip. It’s a fox, light-footed and swift, its beautiful life about to be taken by a stupid mistake and a stupid blue Volvo.
The steering wheel is pulled to the right by his hands, the action distant and fuzzy. He swerves directly into a tree. Alarms blare. He feels a ghost of guilt for wrecking his sister’s car, but mostly there’s a feeling of success, mind murmuring you did something good for once and this better stick, you better die this time.
He blacks out with blood trickling down his forehead.
The fox escapes, physically unscathed.
"Do you think he crashed the car on purpose?" Zoe hiccups, tears tracing their paths down her cheeks, snot dripping past her lips. Miguel hesitates before answering.
"Yeah," he admits softly. "Yeah, I think he did."
A desolate sob breaks past Zoe's lips as her fears are confirmed. She collapses against Miguel's chest. He pulls her into a hug, hands braced against her back.
"You're okay, you're okay," he murmurs repetitively as she falls apart.
"He's not, though," she says raggedly, words bleeding into each other, "he might die. I don’t wanna have to fuckin’ miss him any more than I already have— havta—”
Her voice breaks on another sob, high-pitched and anguished and enraged.
The heart rate monitor fills up the resounding silence afterwards.
Connor drifts, omniscient. He’s made up of shooting stars and innocence. He’s made up of soft-barked saplings and purity. His mind remains blissfully blank. It doesn’t feel like he has much of a body, which is fine by him. No more twitching fingers, no more wrists burnt and scarred by endless amounts of cigarette butts, no more snapping and snarling dog teeth.
There are things he misses, though. Cynthia and her idealistic perfectionist ways. Larry and his rough edges, baseball gloves and rigidity. Zoe’s nebulae of thoughts and ideas, overshadowed and dimmed by his own overpowering inky darkness. Miguel’s softness and gentility, his caring nature too often wasted on Connor’s useless self. The birthmark on the side of his neck. Light touches and fleeting kisses.
Even if he did want to return to the pain and suffering that comes with existing as a mentally ill human in shambles, it’s far too late.
A different form would suit him far better.
A ruby-red fox lingers in the Murphy household’s backyard long after Connor dies. Cynthia and Larry argue over mundane things and come back together when necessary. Zoe falls in love for the first time. Miguel becomes something of an adopted son.
Connor isn’t there to hold them back.