Nate McKowen was awarded Third Place in Memoir in the 2016 Prison Writing Contest.

My dad’s van was gunmetal grey. We had dubbed it the “Dutch Oven” because it had no AC, and the windows didn’t roll down. The engine sat between the two front seats. A cracked engine cover leaked the type of heat you could smell. Periodically, my dad would have to pull over to pour water in the radiator or else the van would sputter to a stall. If we sat idle too long the tailpipe backfired, barking at us to get a move on.

My dad was homeless. We still spent the weekends together every now and then. We called it camping.

“Your dad’s here,” my mom called when his van pulled into the driveway.

I tossed my phone on the counter, arms extended, as if to say, “See what deprivation I must endure.” I didn’t get service on the other side of the mountain. No doubt there would be a thousand missed texts when I got back. She would be all drunk at 2:30 and want