The blood dried a little darker than the toenail polish. But a girl can’t run in heels.
Stupid thing. Ugly thing. You—oughtta—thank—me.
A paralyzed field steamed on her left. A dark slush of trees blurred to her right. She kept to the tracks. The splinters and gashes on her feet chewed. Like something almost alive.
We call this—a pity fuck. See?
The hem of her prom dress was torn, dirty. Two nights ago, sewing needle in mouth, Mother had said she looked like an angel.
She had twirled and twirled, the words a white dove in her heart.
You best—not tell. Who’d believe—afatpieceashit—like Stammering St-st-Stover?
There was no going home last night. Home. The word a foul lie.
Mother would have smelled her breath, noted the rips, and known. Demanded to see the stiff, soiled panties. Not red now, but rusted. Like something used up. Slimming underpants, Mother had called them in the department store. Her lips a pink scar.
No, she would--never--go back. Just keep running, running. Until that stink-eye in the sky sank, and last night's moon defrosted.
You know—I’d find ya--right? Just—gotta—follow that—fat-girl—stench. Smells like—like—spoiled—
He came on meat.
She tripped, and crashed, elbow crunching. But she couldn’t feel, couldn’t feel. Nothing except that stabbing flame. Down there. Like the devil’s itch. Couldn't outrun it. Hugging the hot stones, she opened her mouth for the sobs that wouldn’t come, and retched.
A train whistle called. Two--short--bursts. She rolled on her side.
Laying her cheek on the rail, she grew still. Like one of them caterpillars in the tree up there, done with its cocoon. She almost laughed to think.
Again, the train sang. Closer now. Blasting through the dead space between her ears.
Didn’t mean to be so rough, Josie. It was the vodka, y’know.
She'd always thought train whistles had the loneliest call in the world. But now she realized they sounded a promise. Of destinations.
For those willing to hear.
You wanna go out again? Some place nice next time?
Her cheek received the secret vibrations. She smiled.
So we're straight? Remember, Stover—you never said “no.”
Well, no. She hadn’t been able. Still couldn’t.
The engine curled into view.
No stopping now. Her teeth chattered. So much power, bearing down on her. Coming for her. She closed her eyes. Willed herself away. White dove, white dove . . .
You wanted it. All you said was--