“River otters, not sea otters” his wife had said. “Sea otters have short, flat tails, and I don’t like them as much.” She offered no further explanation for this preference. But the river otters were dying. Not because of his wife, of course. They had been on the state’s endangered list since the late seventies. Then, like magic, they came back. Back in droves, all across the state. She was ecstatic. It was all she could talk about. Every small creek and estuary outcropping, there were otters. Every covered bridge and useless rusted trestle: otters. Mary made him drive so slowly over each and every blind corner in Sidney, afraid he might injure one accidentally. “Cover the brake, cover the brake!” she’d say, over and over. Then, a few years ago, they re-instated legal trapping, and it became Mary’s mission to save the otters. She put signs up in her yard, hanging from the old magnolia tree: save the otters; trap the politicians. She sold hand-knitted otters (“river, not sea” she would tell everyone. “Look at the tail.”) to folks at the Sunday market. She named their new kitten otter, and he would curl up like a familiar on the back of her chair most evenings. When she died that fall, Gary wasn’t sure what to do with all the yarn. He gave it to Cecilia, who cried all afternoon helping him clean the barn. In time, he took down the signs; sold the house. He still looked for them around every blind corner, in every thunderstorm-swelled gulch. And, more often than not, there they were. Busy. Unaware of the inconvenience their silly little tails, those not-flat tails caused to every commuter in central Illinois. Gary always found them, the glut of these once-lost litters. He tried to make sure to hit the turn sharply. He tried to do some good. He always made sure to keep his foot down.