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II: HER WORDS • Fiction


For the record: This never happened. The closest she came was an injury-free fender- bender in Springfield, around junior-high age,with her dad driving.


Are We There Yet? The world is a scarier place in the back seat of a car with the windows down, nervous


eyes on darkening clouds. I used to watch the green fly by, nothing more than a distorted and unrecognizable blur. We’ve spent so much time on highways that my eyes have adjusted. Now I can make out the yellow flowers and mile markers. I try to focus on the blue to the west, shielding my face from the whip that my long braid has become in the wind. My father drives with one hand out the window, the other idly tapping the steering wheel to the beat of whatever must be playing on the radio. Not that I can hear it over the roar in my ears. He looks back at me with a smile. “Don’t you just love the


fresh air?” I respond with a grimace,


adding a fewmumbled words as I look away. I see my mother’s eyes shift to me in the rearview mirror, a knowing smirk on her lips. Shrugging, I return my gaze to the clouds.Almost there. I see a quick crack of light


out of the corner of my eye and the six-year-old version of myself I have been trying to contain since we departed takes full reign of my body. My knees are pressed tightly to my chest before I can question how they got there, my bottom lip pulled taught between my teeth. I count the seconds carefully.OneMississippi, two Mississippi. When a noise doesn’t come, I relax. Just as I shift my weight out of the sunken seat I should know to avoid by now, the clap of thunder I had been so readily anticipating just moments ago rings in my ears. Six-year-old me lets out a startled shriek. A jump. A jerked elbow. An echoed scream. A honk. More honks. Crunches. Cracks.


Bangs. Screeches. Black tire marks and red everything else. The right side of my body digs into the ground and my eyes land level to the overgrown


grass. Through the greens and yellows, I find blue on the horizon just as the rain starts to come down.


__________ 109


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