Claudia Smith

We read books about colts, born in milky wetness, learning to walk, and then winning races. We knew what withers and Run for the Roses were about. The willow tree in her yard was our refuge, where our horses trained, and where our dolls jockeyed championship races. We tied our dolls to the weeping willows, swung them around like children on a carnival ride. I was thin; she was plump. Her parents had sent her to fat camps; my mother said her mother was the type to want a daughter in pageants. Her parents had cocktails and little weiners on cocktail bread with pale cheese. We drank the leftover liquor and fought over the glasses without melted ice. Our mothers didn't like one another, but recognized the value of girls and their secrets. Sometimes, we snuck into her father's desk and stole his letters. She never came to my house, but I told her about the loose change my father left on the dresser, how I took it to buy jewelry from the mall.
Her father kept a stash in the liquor cabinet. My father was a cop. Her father was a lawyer. Our mothers both wore dark glasses. It was a stereotype, but it was true, hiding their marks behind scarves and migraines. We compared their bruises as if they were badges. We tied our dolls to the trees by their necks. We hanged the cowardly women.