Claudia Smith

I'm driving past a graveyard and there's a song on the radio that reminds me of the girl who slipped icy cubes of urine down my back when I was in the sixth grade. She used to whistle when I walked into the room and call me double D; we were both early every day, me because my mother had to drop me off in time for work, her because her mother taught there. She wasn't popular or unpopular. I wasn't unpopular, really, either. This song is about a girl running out in the night, in a snowstorm, calling her horse's name. It made this girl cry. I laughed. We were sworn enemies. She asked me why I wore braids, was I a retard? She, herself, wore her hair in golden wings. One day I found her behind the Our Lady statue, stabbing primrose stems until juice ran down her fingers. I came up behind her and kicked her in the tender hollow of her knee. We were tearing, biting, screaming. I didn't see or feel the nun who tore us apart. Alone in the principal's office, I studied my scratches, the perfect bruises her sharp teeth had left. You should be kind, Sr. Rosa told me. She told me this girl's father liked the bottle. I envisioned a man much like my father, sucking from a baby bottle's nipple, although I knew what she meant. Biting my lip I felt a rush. It could be an hour, it could be a few minutes, passing through small towns I don't plan to drive through again, the volume down all the way so her song is in my head. Soon there are no town lights. I'd forgotten about how the girl freezes to death after running through a blizzard calling out her horse's name. No wonder she loved that song, she was crazy about horses, always drawing them in the margins of her notebooks. I feel like pulling over, finding a bar, kissing someone on the lips, hard. I can see her, sweatsoaked in a white blouse worn transparent. It makes me want to cry. I don't.