Butterfly

BY LORI SAMBOL BRODY

Half an hour after the bell rings and everyone’s all school’s out for the summer, and I’m still waiting for Susan at the bus stop outside school to go to the mall. When I see green Vans in front of me, I think it’s Susan, but it’s this girl grabbing at my chest, pulling at my necklace.

She leans in so close the black pupils of her eyes merge into chocolate irises. Gripped in one fist is my gold chain. The butterfly charm dangles between her knuckles.

I’ll kill you if you tell, she says.

My skin smarts from where the chain was yanked from my neck. I look at the junior high gates. Hoping someone will come, a teacher staying late or Susan, apologizing for her lateness.

I’m talking to you, she says.

I’m no snitch.

I’ll be watching you. She retreats. Turns back once, forked fingers pointing to her eyes and then to me.

I tell my mother I lost the necklace. She tells me she regrets giving something valuable to someone so careless.

I will always remember how the girl looks: overlapping front teeth, olive skin, dark hair. Three white feathers dangling from a roach clip barrette. Jeans with rainbowed seams. Over the summer that Susan never calls, I look in the mirror and see the girl’s reflection.

Next year, in French 1, Susan slides into a desk near girls in pastel-colored satin jackets. They’ve graffitied Pee-Chee folders with names of singers I thought Susan hated, Barry Gibb, Rod Stewart.

Another girl sits in the seat I’d saved for Susan. She’s the girl. Thick eyeliner around caramel eyes. She’s drawn a butterfly on the back of her hand with a purple felt tip. In the hollow of her throat, a charm holder dangles a unicorn and a marijuana leaf. My hand shakes as I fill my notebook with conjugations: je suis, tu es, il est.

She says Je m’appelle Luna, pairs with me to practice dialogue. When she laughs, she reveals barbed wire crossing crooked front teeth, a gap where a molar has been pulled. Over the months, we leave notes folded into hearts in each other’s lockers, draw twin butterflies on the inside of our wrists. I wait for her to reveal herself like the phases of the moon.

Susan leans to the satin-jacketed girls, glances at me. She’s friends with that girl.

Luna squints.

I touch her hand. Teach me to do eyes like yours.

In the girl’s bathroom, Luna strikes a match, passes the tip of a Maybelline eyeliner in Smoky Black through the flame. So it will go on smoother, she says. I breathe in sulfur mixed with the sweet scent of her Dr. Pepper Lip Smacker. She leans toward me, wielding the eyeliner like a sword. Her necklace slips from under her shirt, a butterfly floating from the S-link chain.

This won’t hurt, she says.

 

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Lori Sambol Brody lives in the mountains of Southern California. Her short fiction has been published in Tin House Flash Fridays, New Orleans Review, The Rumpus, Little Fiction, Necessary Fiction, and elsewhere. She can be found on Twitter at @LoriSambolBrody and her website is lorisambolbrody.wordpress.com.

Art: “Orbit” by issue 6 featured artist, Matthew Chapman

Working from relationships observed in his day-to-day, Matt finds his work in an interaction between two people, the space between the meeting of nature and architecture, or the spill of light on the ground. Using painting and drawing as a way to speak to the these relationships, a language of geometric abstraction and considered mark making is developed.

Chapman lives and works in Lancaster PA, studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia (MFA) as well as Lancaster’s Pennsylvania College of Art & Design (BFA). He has exhibited at: The Walter and Leonore Annenberg Gallery, Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building at PAFA, Philadelphia PA. Pentimenti Gallery, Philadelphia PA. Rothus Halle, Solothurn, Switzerland. The Ware Center for Visual and Performing Arts at Millersville University, Lancaster PA. Sunshine Art + Design, Lancaster PA. City Hall Permanent Collection, Lancaster PA.

Instagram: Mattallynchapman
Facebook: Matt Allyn Chapman
Website: www.mattallynchapman.com