Send Me Back

Some days exercise stirs my memories, and I rest my bicycle against the wall of the covered bridge to breathe in the cool air. I think of home then.

The Authorities say I’ll forget my old life. Eventually. But they’re wrong.

Lilith has cooked some kind of fish for dinner. I eat it dutifully and try to forget the steaks and martinis I had to leave behind.

She says I’ve been given a second chance. I say prison is prison. But Lilith never did understand the real world. She always had a soft heart. Maybe it kept us from being sent to Alpha 10. I’ve only heard rumors, but they say the inmates don’t last long there. I’m glad I wasn’t in petrochemicals. Most of those boys were sent to Alpha 10. They’re gone now. Just part of the yellow dust.

At night I sit with my special telescope and stare at my home so far away. A perfect blue and green sphere. They say it’s finally healed.

If only they’d send me back.

A Crack in the Ice

            “Ella! No!”

            She heard his voice just as the ice around her began to split apart, cracks sliding through it like serpents. She could hear the rush of water below.

            One minute she had been sailing heedless on her silver blades, laughing at Carl’s unease about the glassy lake, especially when there were no other skaters; now she stood paralyzed in its center, huddling into herself.

            “Try to catch hold of my jacket!”

            She flung out her arms and tried to grasp the flutter of orange. Her island of ice tilted and freezing water soaked her feet. “I can’t! I can’t” Already a two-foot wide fissure separated her from Carl. “Get help!”

            She saw the doubt on his face, but he grabbed his coat and skated away faster than she thought possible.

            She was safe enough here on this little piece of ice, she thought. All she needed to do was wait. She stared up at the gray sky. The air felt heavy with the threat of snow, and she rubbed her hands over her arms.

            She’d always mocked Carl for being cautious. “Take a chance,” she always told him. Maybe he had been the smart one.

            The ice cracked again, this time right through the middle of her island, and she had to throw herself to the side to avoid sliding into the dark water. But now the smaller island tipped precariously and cold water poured over the sides. Ella pulled herself up, but she was completely soaked.

            Once she had dreamed of going to the Olympics. She had worked so hard. Practice every morning at six; practice after school; then she finally quit school to practice all the time and work with private tutors. She had come in seventh in the Olympic trials. Seventh. That was her best year.

            Oh, she had gone on to work in different ice shows, but it wasn’t the same. She was never a star. Not the way Mama wanted. Not the way she wanted.

            Flakes of snow began to drift down and caress her face like cold kisses.

            Carl loved her. He never cared whether she was in the Olympics or not. She loved and hated that about him. Could you love and hate at the same time?

            She held up her hand to catch a snow flake, but the effort exhausted her.

            Her island rode low in the water now, and she was surprised that her legs were dangling off the edge. Funny. Her feet were completely numb. Was that good or bad? She closed her eyes and felt the snow brush against her face, cold at first then pleasant like a blanket. A perfect blanket. It was so quiet now. Were there voices in the distance or was it just the wind? She didn’t know. She preferred the quiet.

            Would Carl find her? She didn’t know or care. Everything was serene. She felt like a clock winding down. Tick tock, tick tock, tick . . .


Loose Ends

I slump in the plastic seat, staring at my feet encased in high, gorgeous Jimmy Choos. Look great hurt like hell. I probably should have worn running shoes, but that would have been too obvious. In the early morning, the train is empty, and I listen to the sound of its wheels clicking over the rails.

“Ya almost made it,” a voice from behind me says.

I never heard him come in. That’s what happens when you spend the night moving from subway to subway. By morning, you’re so tired you get sloppy.

“Detective Moore,” I say. “This is a surprise.”

“Sure it is.”

“I don’t suppose I could interest you in getting off at the next stop and letting me go on alone.”

“Don’t suppose you could. You’re a person of interest.”

“Only to Donald.”

“That’s enough.”

The brakes squeal and the train slows as I shoot him in the face with the .38 I carry in my left pocket. I walk to the door without looking back. Donald didn’t warn him that I’m left handed. Too bad for Detective Moore. And to think I was ready to get out for good.

Now I have to tie up that final loose end.

The Girl in White


 I spin around in my new white toe shoes just as Mrs. Morrison showed us, except today I get to hold these oversized red, white and blue balloons. Later we’ll give them to the wounded boys–that’s what Mrs. Morrison calls them. Some just a few years older than me, so I must remember to be kind and not look away from the horrid burns and missing arms and legs.


 “Be kind, Alicia, imagine how pleasant it is for these boys to watch such sweet young girls dance and twirl for them.”


 I wouldn’t feel happy at all to be wheeled outside only to sit and watch, unable to move, like the big Yank with the awful burns. The nurses say he’ll be dead soon.


 I offer him a balloon, but he shakes his head and smiles a lipless grin.“Dance, child, no war here.”


 He’s wrong. At night I dream of his horrible face and hate him.