Spell, Broken – Gina Marie Bernard
You pen a note to your friend in math class asking my friend in phy-ed
if she’ll tell me during lunch that you want to meet me after school
so we can walk home together.
I find you behind the buses and we move down the sidewalk, our coats
touching along their sleeves. My fingers trail the chain link fence
until we come to the end of the block. I put my hands in my pockets.
You pull my right hand free and lace our fingers.
Our breath comes forth in little white clouds.
We cut through a cemetery, grave shadows long in the blue light
of this January afternoon. Shoes squelch against snow. Our eyes water
as we follow a jet trail crossing thin air high above.
In the alley behind your house, we shrug out of our bookbags and straddle them
as awkwardly as soldiers waiting for a train. A breeze cools my sweaty palms.
My cheeks burn brightly. A glistening drop hangs from beneath your nose.
You swipe it away and kiss me.
That night I call you. My step mother smiles and winks, so I stretch the cord
as far as it will go, and sit in our pantry. She closes the door behind me.
“Hi,” I say into the dark.
“Hey,” you reply into my ear.
I smell yellow onions and breathe in potatoes that have grown eyes. After a while,
you put on a Steve Miller Band record and I cradle the phone with my shoulder
as we listen to “Abracadabra.”
At lunch the next day, my friend tells me that your friend told her in phy-ed
that you passed her a note in math class saying,
Too much tongue.
Gina Marie Bernard will someday brew mead from honey produced in her apiary. Gina’s daughters, Maddie and Parker, share her heart. Her work has been nominated for Best of the Net, Best Small Fictions, Best Micro-Fictions, and The Pushcart. She is pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at University of Arkansas, Monticello. She is a heavily tattooed transgender woman, retired roller derby vixen, and lifelong unipolar depressive. She teaches high school English in Bemidji, Minnesota.