Wood Swallows

Amy Brown’s mother was the bus driver, and so to get to her birthday party all the girls had to do was stay on the bus. Amy Brown’s mother yelled, Sit your asses down. The girls leaned headfirst over the vinyl seats. No one sat. Amy sat. The sun set. The suburbs stopped. Amy Brown’s trailer was on the highway. Amy Brown’s mother parked the bus in the grass. There was a collection of ceramic moles displayed in one window. Mosquito hawks floated like balloons. The girls drank Coke out of plastic cups. They could have as much as they wanted. After the presents, the girl from the cul-de-sac asked where the party favors were. She and Amy Brown were in the same reading group, the Wood Swallows. Amy Brown’s mother said, Party favors? Amy Brown’s father said, Right here. He opened his wallet and took out a stack of dollar bills. He had a cigarette. It wasn’t lit. He kept it between his lips. It moved up and down like a wand when he talked. One for you and one for you. He had money for each waving pink hand. My little jackrabbits, he said. So greedy. Later, Amy Brown found a mouse, a little guy, a baby maybe, rattling a glue trap under the sink. Her guests named him Sam. Sam shivered. Help him, they said. Amy Brown put Sam in a bowl. She covered Sam with a napkin. She put the bowl in the microwave. Better soon. She pressed minute plus. Amy Brown was solemn as a church. She watched the bowl spin. Cars on TV spun on stages made of black mirrors. She was nine years old. Rich.

Wood Swallows a was published in issue 4.1.

Anya Groner's short stories, poems, and reviews have appeared in journals including FlatManCrooked, Bookslut, Umbrella Journal, The Collagist, Memphis Magazine, and others. She recently received her MFA from the University of Mississippi where she held a Grisham fellowship in fiction. She writes and teaches in Oxford, Mississippi.