by J.M. Patrick


When I was a little girl in a big bed in a little room, I would stare at the ceiling and think about where you might be. In a rocket ship maybe? Landing on a giant moon with craters so big your co-pilot yells "Jesus, Jim! Watch for that hole!"

Maybe you'd be in the emergency room, calling "Stat! Stat!" and using the big silver paddles to save someone's life. Once, you were an explorer in an African rainforest, but in school I learned about snakes so big they could eat a man, so I stopped imagining that.


"Where are we going?"

"Raul's. He's making steaks."

I hate Raul. His stomach hangs over his pants, he talks with his mouth full and his fingernails are always black. I want to soak his hands in soapy water.

I want her to stop the car so I can throw up on the sidewalk, but I don't say this.

"What kind of steaks?"

"T-bone. Does it matter?"

No, I guess it doesn't.

We're silent for fifteen street lamps.

"You're named after a princess," Mom smokes really long cigarettes now, but she throws them out the window before they're even halfway smoked.

"I am?"

"Princess Diana. She was a beautiful woman."

"What happened to her?"

"The paparazzi killed her."

Paparazzi, paparazzi, paparazzi. I love this word! It sounds like the firecrackers the neighbor boys light in the summertime — exploding and then fizzling out.


Raul's son wants to play Tonka trucks in the driveway. He's four. That is exactly twice the age I was when you left. I know this because I'm in fifth grade now and Mom told me about you.

It's too hot for Tonka trucks, but I play anyway. I don't want to make Trevor angry; it's too hot to listen to him scream. He's we