CW: drug abuse + sexual assault
I dream of Jane Humphries who bit her cuticles until they bled, who pierced my ears in her grandmother’s bathroom, Jane, flat-chested like me, who stole her mother’s bracelets and the principal’s purse, who clutched my hand at recess and flipped her middle finger at the boys who teased me; Jane of hairless arms and pointy teeth, who twisted my wrist and bit my shoulder, breaking the silence of my skin, Jane with snowflakes in her eyebrows and holes in her socks, who kissed my mouth and called me Cupcake, whose mother stayed in bed, whose father smashed glass with his fist, who told me about her brother and the things he said: Be good, kneel, roll over, until the night when Jane wouldn’t stop barking and her brother said to her, you’re a bad dog, Jane, and zipped up his pants; Jane, you visit me in dreams, I see the hollows under your eyes, your lips chapped and trembling in the schoolyard; I smell your licorice breath; I hear your voice, Jane, pleading with me—don’t leave me alone, don’t look at me like that—and I can’t forget the day you found me behind the dumpster with Marcus Evenson, that look on your face like I’d punched you in the gut, the way you threw up in the weeds before running off, dirty saddle shoes slapping against the asphalt; I lied when I said I’d keep in touch, Jane, that day I ran into you at the park a year ago, after not seeing you in twenty years; I memorized the sharpness of your shoulder blades when we hugged, the feathers of your hair soft against my cheek; Jane, the image of you shooting that final deadly dose into your veins is burned in my brain next to the image of us playing tug-of-war after school as Marcus yelled at me to hurry up already because he wanted me all to himself: of how my palms grew tired and rope-burned before yours, of how I let go of the rope and let you fall in the mud—wet leaves stuck to your hair, how I felt sorry and suffocated and small, as I do now, and I called Come back, Jane when you stormed away, your white shirt ruined, Jane, I called, Jane, Jane, but you didn’t listen, you wouldn’t come back.
Lisa Korzeniowski’s fiction has appeared in Fanzine, Opium, and FEED Lit Mag. Her work was chosen for the Wigleaf Top 50 Very Short Fictions of 2020.
Photography by: Luis Quintero