By Michelle Morouse
History class smells like track shoes and a clash of colognes, with an undersmell of thirty-year old dust. My best friend, C.J., on my right, straightens her ballerina spine, getting a side glance from Eduardo. He’s hot. We both think so.
Mr. Stewart is talking about how many died of dysentery, not bullets, in the Civil War. Went for glory but died in a puddle of their own shit. A squirrel sits on the sill to my left, gnawing an acorn like it’s a black hole that’s going to swallow him up.
Mr. Stewart tells us about General Forrest and those thirty-nine horses shot from under him, poor things, but we already heard the story, better, from Mr. Cuczinski. To my back right, Dora drops the phone that she’s not supposed to be using. Mr. Stewart keeps going. She can’t reach it, even with her foot. Stoner Andrew finally picks it up, then stretches his legs back out like he wants to trip someone, but he never does because he’s always in the back.
Mr. Stewart finishes with a story about female spies, another Cuczinski flashback. The lunch bell rings, and I answer texts from Mom about picking up my sister later, taking her to the orthodontist. I’m alone, and I make myself go to the right front corner of the room for the first time.
The chair is on its side. It was super-nerd Samira’s idea to glue it in place here, and we all fought for it. It looks too small to have held Mr. Cuczinski’s jowly, jolly bulk, but it did. Too small to fend off a maniac that left him and six others bleeding out. I bend down, trace my hand along the top, like he used to do, standing at the blackboard. I run my hand down its back and see a streak. I grab a clean gym sock from my backpack. Dust, dust, dust.
Michelle Morouse is a Detroit area pediatrician. Her work has appeared recently in Necessary Fiction, Wigleaf, Peregrine, Lullwater Review, Passager, The MacGuffin, Pembroke Magazine, and Passages North. She serves on the board of Detroit Working Writers.
Art by Michelle Johnsen, art editor
Michelle Johnsen is a nature and portrait photographer in Lancaster, PA, as well as an amateur herbalist and naturalist. Her work has been featured by It’s Modern Art, Susquehanna Style magazine, Permaculture Activist magazine, EcoWatch.com, EarthFirst! Journal, Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative, and used as album art for Grandma Shake!, Anna & Elizabeth, and Liz Fulmer Music. Michelle’s photos have also been stolen by AP, weather.com, The Daily Mail, and Lancaster Newspapers. You can contact her at mjphoto717 [at] gmail.com.