by Christina Dalcher
News travels to you three weeks after her funeral. You’ve almost forgotten what she looked like, how her skin was two shades pinker than yours, how the lipstick you traded in halls between algebra and geometry looked wrong on different mouths, how shoes fit and bras didn’t. She taught you to spell words with your fingers, and you plaited her blonde hair when that was the cool thing to do. Together you named your future daughters, picked out matching houses in matching towns. Once, you French-kissed, only to sample each other’s taste before returning to boys.
A picture, the one you kept, refreshes her face’s shape at fifteen. Parts of it have gone to silver, like your hair has over the years. There are faint blotches of emptiness in the photograph, so you fill them in with memories of shared dolls and secrets, of midnight calls and whispered Do you like him? I think he likes you.
Here are some things about him you remember:
He drove a white Mustang and sometimes smoked Marlboros from a red box.
He had a crooked smile and wore old Levis and danced with stilted steps – first with you, then with her. Then with you.
He carried an invisible saber, sharp enough to cut through friendship.
He was the cause of fifty unsent Christmas cards; a thousand unspoken apologies.
You can remember all this, but when the kids find you in the attic amid dust and boxes and tears, and ask Who was that boy? you draw a blank on his name.
Christina Dalcher is a theoretical linguist from the Land of Styron and Barbecue, where she writes, teaches and channels Shirley Jackson. Recognitions include The Bath Flash Award’s Short List, nominations for Best of the Net and Best Small Fictions, and second place in Bartleby Snopes’ Dialogue-Only Contest. Find her work in Split Lip Magazine, Whiskey Paper and New South Journal, among others. Her feminist dystopian short story ‘Vox’ will be published in Upper Rubber Boot’s Women Up to No Good anthology in early 2019. Laura Bradford of Bradford Literary Agency represents her novels.