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Not me, her

In 1987, I found myself trying to write about a high school girlfriend that had been molested by her father when she was a child. I was 19 years old, struggling to find my way through a screenwriting assignment about delivering character. The idea was to describe messy young love between two Sid and Nancy want-to-be's. But that failed, as I could not stomach oversimplifying her complicated past, events that shaped her life as a 16 year old with a mohawk, a smart mouth, a lingering stare. I understood that I had to start at the very beginning.

No one wanted to hear the story. When it was my turn to read in class, it even came to be that some of the other students asked to stand in the hallway before they heard another description of what happened in that lonely little house in the middle of nowhere. I was trying, and failing, and trying again to get things right, to explain how this happened, how it could happen to this girl, how this man found his way to acts of selfishness and d…

a scream, a howl


There is a scream, as we sidestep the giant puddles in the parking lot. My neck cranes. There is no car speeding off, no body on the ground. The screams come again, now more than one person and I understand it is some teenagers playing in the woods. E's face relaxes. She was worried, the same as me. A delivery truck guns its engine, passing us creating a wave of frothy brown water. It is another monday here, a trip to the hardware store to buy cleaning supplies, an empty chore.

Trees are bending in the wind. I pull a hood tight around my ears.

A dog is barking, howling, whimpering. We see it, turning in circles, yanking against its collar.

Half of the neighborhood is up in arms while the rest of us make our way in silence.

Behind the grocery store that was simply gone one day, its doors a great loose mouth of brick and dust, I find a penny on the ground. Not a ruble, not a kopek but a penny. I show it to E.
"It's probably one of yours." She says, out of the side of her mouth.
I think of the people that pick through the garbage cans, maybe finding one of my pennies and tossing it, useless into the night.









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