Breakfast for Growing Girls
Sara cleaned her refrigerator on Friday nights when we were freshmen in high school. Cold cuts and condiments on the kitchen counter. She loved the smell of cleaning solution. How she could feel it in the center of her chest. She cleaned crumbs out of crevices, stray hairs, crusted ketchup stains. I was there the night her mother came home with blood dripping down the backs of her legs. Her jean skirt stained through the seat. In slurred speech, she said she’d stayed out longer than intended. Ran out of tampons. She opened the fridge, grabbed a jar of pickles, dunked her fingers into the lime green liquid. Juices dripped onto the floor. I caught Sara staring at the stains. She kept her body clean. Her mother took off her shirt to show me a pirate ship between her shoulder blades, bow to stern. One night Sara’s mother left the door open and flies filled the living room where we slept. Clouds of them. That slow, fat kind of fly. Sara started killing them, her weapon a yellow flyswatter. She climbed on the chairs, crawled on the floor. I closed my eyes and covered my ears. In the morning, we made blueberry muffins from a mix and split the batch between us.