I’m in a forest. It’s dark, but I have no trouble seeing everything around me. My senses are alert to everything...the owl flying above me with the squirming half-eaten mouse in its beak, the cicadas dropping slowly from branches to the pine-needle-coated ground. I find that I’m walking without realizing it, through the trees and on the crunchy pine needles...and crap, my toe is bleeding. Even in dreams I get woozy at the sight of blood; my head suddenly feels like an anvil on my bony shoulders, so I lean on an old tree and look up, away from my scarlet toe.


Her mother used to have a job, at Barbara’s kindergarten, but then they told her she had to leave. Barbara was still fuzzy on the details; her mother told her that six-year-olds didn’t need to worry about such things.


She sat in the pew day after day, smelling. Smelling the warm cherry pies that the old women brought to the potluck. Smelling the pages of ancient, dusty hymnals. Smelling the sickeningly sweet perfume of her mother every Sunday morning. Smelling the flowers and the grass and the breeze through the crack in the stern window...beckoning to her, begging her to go outside and join in the fun.

About a Girl

Jess’s apartment building was built in the 70s, and his kitchen was complete with flowery yellow wallpaper and chipped off-white cabinets. Elliot was ninety percent sure that the fridge was the only appliance ever used in that kitchen.