And how many were there? The entire senior class, close to three hundred. Some administrators; a score of teachers. The football coach, six parents, one newspaper reporter for the local, The Galloway Speaker, Mary, who had just taken the job out of college and covered the education beat. She was twenty-two and had graduated from Lenape High School herself just years before, and had felt like a very big deal indeed coming back as a real reporter, a writer, an important local person which helped her overcome some of the shame of having come home to live and not going on to pursue a graduate degree. Her mother had been sickly, and she the only daughter, and though all of her friends from high school were gone for good, and her college friends lived elsewhere or were still in school, she imagined them as her real friends and not the kids she’d known but ignored in high school, the ones who never went anywhere, the ones who nodded to her in the grocery store and the local eateries and the convenience stores. You’re back; you’re a loser just like us, is what she thought they thought. They didn’t, of course, their shame too large to leave space to consider her, but today, when she’d stopped for coffee before going to the high school to cover the senior rally, she’d seen one, a boy who still looked pretty much just as he had on the day of their graduation, and she’d felt so ashamed at being back in this small town, which wasn’t really small at all, comparatively, but felt like small with all the connotative weight of that word, that when she’d stepped through the metal detectors at the school, she’d almost let herself imagine she was going through airport security, on her way to somewhere important, somewhere much more exciting, a place where things happened, where she would be at the center of something.

Laura McCullough’s books of poetry include Rigger Death & Hoist Another (Black Lawrence Press), Panic (winner of a 2009 Kinereth Gensler Award, Alice James Books), Speech Acts, and What Men Want. She is the editor of Mead: the Magazine of Literature and Libations and an editor at large forTranStudies Magazine.