Johnny America


The Fifth of July


Su­san spun ’round on the side­walk while wind­ing her arm like so many car­toon char­ac­ters she’d watched pitch base­balls and dy­na­mite. “Ready, Pe­te,” she ques­tion-com­mand­ed her broth­er. He was look­ing sky­ward and pock­et­ing one hand in the oth­er as if he wore a catcher’s mitt. The para­chute and cap­sule Su­san was spi­ral­ing to launch were rem­nants from the pre­vi­ous night’s fire­works. The faint smell of gun­pow­der lin­gered around them, trapped in their hair.

Su­san launched the para­chute to­ward the cu­mu­lus cloud ob­scur­ing the mid­day sun, her body fol­low­ing the missile’s tra­jec­to­ry a mo­ment too long. She fal­tered. One of her in­cisors cracked against the con­crete. She didn’t cry out. Pe­te was still star­ing ex­pec­tant­ly at the sky when Su­san called for his at­ten­tion. “Get mom,” she plead­ed, scarred. The blood pool­ing on her tongue blurred her words.

All the way back from the den­tist, Su­san smiled. Pe­te had opened the pas­sen­ger door of the Chevy and helped her buck­le the seat belt, though by right it was his since he was old­er, then their moth­er drove through the Dairy Queen. Su­san sucked milk­shake in­to the cor­ners of her mouth, land­scap­ing vanil­la ponds above la­tent molars.

Filed under Fiction on February 6th, 2006

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