Maeve walks the CVS aisles high as those Mylar balloons, the ones that break free from their cage or slip loose from a hand, trapped in corners of tall ceilings. She tears the plastic seals off tubes of lipsticks and compacts of iridescent eyeshadows, coloring her face like the wings of a still hummingbird as I run down the aisles after her, inhaling pine and lemon, Skittles and holiday chocolates, skimming the Hallmark cards celebrating lifetime achievements she’ll never imagine: graduations, marriages, births, anniversaries. The pharmacist yells over the counter, Girls, you have to pay for that now. Maeve inspects her newly painted nails she finished in aisle 5b, Alley Cat black, pouts her Jolly Rancher red lips, tugs down her sun-faded top and whispers in his ear with her warm watermelon breath words that throws him back to middle school and hard-ons. We’re both thirteen, but no one ever thinks Maeve is thirteen. Not ever. She turns her head, sticks out her candy-coated tongue. We have the place now. Outside the rain hits sideways and somewhere Maeve’s mother is finishing her shift at Waffle House and will walk across the street to the trucker bar, tend to the drunks and bring one home; somewhere my mother is cooking dinner and will wait for me, looking at the clock, meatloaf growing cold while my father watches football. And all I smell is sun and possibilities when Maeve peels off the seals of scented lotions: coconuts, Hawaii, waves. Do you smell the beach? she inhales, closing her eyes long enough to feel she is slipping away into a riptide. She grabs hair dye. We become blonds and get the fuck out of here. And I nod, thinking I’d follow her anywhere. Maeve, the only girl who’d talk to me in eighth grade. Maeve, the girl my father called white trash. We get the fuck out of here, I repeat. Maeve, the girl who will go missing in two years and never be found, looking like a stained-glass saint under these florescent lights.
Sabrina Hicks lives in Arizona. Her work has appeared in Wigleaf Top 50, Split Lip Magazine, Lost Balloon, Bending Genres, Barren, Matchbook, Ellipsis Zine, and other publications. More of her work can be found at sabrinahicks.com.