Issue 52 Sept 2017
The evening sun glinted off Johnny’s coppered skin and the flask in his hand. His effortless cool poured from him in the way he held his cigarette and the way he drank from the flask.
He had tucked his shirt into his back pocket the way I’d asked him to, and his dark hair was styled so he looked like Marlon Brando, although much younger. He sat on the fence flawlessly: legs apart and feet hooked under the second cross bar. He stared eastward over his shoulder through his dark Ray Bans.
I loved that he needed so little direction to capture a mood.
I lined up the shot in my Vito B and clicked off three successive shots.
“Great! Keep doing what you’re doing!” I called to Johnny. “Your turn, Dean!”
Right on cue, Dean biked over from his waiting spot. I followed him with the lens, clicking off three more pictures. When he reached Johnny, he took the flask from him. Click. Then the cigarette, resting it casually between his lips. Click. Then he pulled back for the punch. Click. When he made contact, Johnny’s nose broke. I heard it over the click of my camera. The blood sprayed up into the air in a perfect arc. It would make for a glorious picture. My project was to show how hyper-masculinity was destroying manhood as part of my submissions portfolio for the fall.
The small cottage swallowed in weeds and vines might as well be a hole in the brambles rather than a home. The thistle-covered trail in front of me led out into the thick forest away from my hovel. If I attempted to run on the path to free myself, my bare feet would bleed and suffer for days. I had to consider possible infection, and the time spent in the forest until I reached the nearest village.
Staring at the road, I sighed. A magic carpet would be useful. Or anything with wings to fly me right out of here.
Mama called from the threshold, a dark glare stitched on her face, her long hair always kept better than mine. “Grace, get in here, now.”
My heart sank. Something in her shrill tone told me she was up to something, and when I glanced at a mysterious object clutched in her hand, I shrank. Before I could enter the house, she placed her hand on my shoulder and gripped it. “What is this?” The half sewn sock I’d tried to make from Mama’s stolen red-checkered scarf, dangled from her hand.
My stomach lurched. I couldn’t very well tell her it was part of a plan to hike that rough road out of here.
“Nothing, Mama,” I answered, trying to soften my voice and hide any deceit. “Is just a skirt I’m making for Bunny.”
She raised her hand and slapped me across my face. “Liar! No shoes or socks allowed! You little witch.” She squeezed the fabric. “It’s ruined!”
Another slap across my cheek and I crashed on my hands and knees, getting a good view of her perfectly shined flats covering thick socks. She once tied me to the barn for taking those shoes for two days.