Formations By Elizabeth McGuire

December 11, 2014 Comments Off on Formations By Elizabeth McGuire

We rode bareback in circles on two wheeled horses, veering sharp half-moons across the pavement. Cruised chaotic, eager hands gripping high handlebars. We cawed and whistled and howled our cryptic code until the street lights called us home. Home is a bird bath with a curved and lighted walk. Home is covered in plush pile. Home is a cluttered mess that reeks of wine and stringy beef. A prison that takes no prisoners.

As St. Thomas’s Warriors, we wore white shirts on top of pleated skirts. Sister Agnes lined us up against the wall. Innocents willed to be rivals; she split us to opposite sides. You were the last one standing. Your winning word impetuous. First place, a statue of Jesus. Sister Agnes handed you the prize.

“Jesus knows I can spell,” you said to tiny eyes. Afterwards you tossed Jesus to the bottom of your locker and ate lunch alone in the stairwell. I coaxed you out like a little mouse with a milkshake.

Sister Agnes was on a rosary crusade. She loaded her Warriors on busses to Seven Dolor’s Shrine. She wheedled us into confession boxes. Wanted a choir of angels. She yanked hard on your purple hair, and ripped pink cords from my ears. We held tight as she bared her teeth and read our secret notes out loud.

Near the Gates of the Divine Mercy we made our escape. We hitched a ride with a hobo named Helen and for three days ate crusts of grilled cheese under a bridge with Helen’s swarm. They came in rusty Ramblers and on bikes with baskets stuffed with trash. At night they’d prowl past blinking lights, kicking cans. We huddled around the burning bins sipping something sweet until we finally dropped to sleep.

A trooper on patrol dragged us to the station.

“You don’t belong here,” he said. They searched us and found little, so they held us in hopes of finding more. Captive, we watched the green window, waiting scared.

Guardians arrived in a small plane and shuffled quietly into the room. Big eyes staring at our every move. They took notes and took your hand and took you home. I followed but they fenced you in with five acres and a busy road. They let you climb a tree. They let you fall and break an arm . . . and a foot. They let a tractor run over your shins before they finally let me in.

We ate sandwiches and opened presents. I flew a striped flag over our heads. It was nice to be together. But you’ve been given some advice. Wear your plaid skirt short and skin-tight. Wear pointy shoes tall as pins.

“You’re better off on your own,” you warn in a whisper and duck inside the house. You wheel out a baby and tell me it is yours. The old cowboy in the doorway tells me you are his.

© 2014 Elizabeth McGuire

Elizabeth McGuire is a writer and artist from Chicago, and her work has appeared in Burningword, Unlikely Stories, Hobart 15, Molotov Cocktail, among others.

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