Sunday, 6 April 2014

"Bark" excerpt from Further Out

     This story is cheap. If a movie, sandy Etch A Sketch waves would separate episodes dredged from a murky blindness. This is the past. But then everything is past. Or nothing is?
     Ooh, that’s a big thought swimming in a small brain.
     Erin must have put a cramp in someone’s style because she is away at bible camp on a sponsorship for underprivileged kids. How they got under in the first place is an unsolved mystery. Even worse than camp is her first period. Stop. Bleeding through all her clothes is so natural no one talks about it. Except, they let her use the counselors’ bathroom to rinse out her panties each night. Aside from this repeat cycle, she is a regular Jane. See Jane run, jump, climb, swim. Funny, funny Jane. Bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, said Spot.
     That’s a lie. She does none of those things and is not regular. Mostly, she reads on her bunk and the other kids avoid her. Blood must spell trouble. A girl in her cabin says she talks different, like a grown-up.
     “What’s wrong with you, anyway?” Megan says, screwing up her face.
     “What’s wrong with you, sourpuss?” Erin shoots back.
     Megan keeps her comments to herself after that.
     In truth, she has been a bit isolated lately. Sylvie wasn’t letting any kids come by, and now, all of a sudden, she’s surrounded. What do kids even talk about? She tried to bring up Justine, even though she doesn’t like her much, but a boy just called her bizarro girl, and the conversation never went anywhere after that.
     No one wants to bunk above her. They say she smells like compost. She wants to tell them it’s just the food she’s saving under her mattress, but it’s a secret. Monkey says it’s weird to hoard food, but Erin knew that already. More and more they think just the same.
     But then her cabin leader finds the hoard anyway, adds that to her weight and odd behavior, and reports them. Sylvie’s case worker, Marg, mutates from a voice at the end of a crisis line into something mobile and making house calls. 
posted by Aleks

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