Bus stop, wet day, here you are, waiting in the rain like a girl in an old sad song. You finally have a chance to be lonely. Unprotected. No longer snug in your mother’s soft flannel coat pocket. To be the stranger, the outsider. The girl at the bus stop hoping she’s getting on the right bus because she doesn’t know anyone to ask. Standing by the trash barrel with its peeling black bars, avoiding the man on the bench singing about red, red, roses; where have the roses gone? There are no roses here. A car slinks by, long and low, dinosaur footprints of bass stomping out of half-closed windows. You fade back onto the sidewalk, pretend to study rain-torn flyers on telephone poles. MISSING. LOST. HAVE YOU SEEN ME? Girls who stole away, or were stolen. Girls who are not you but who could be. You’ve never lived before in a place where it rains every day. Smell of clothes drying on radiators, crumbling mulch, eucalyptus buttons. Even the wood of the windowsill gone soft, so soft your fingernails leave crescent-moon marks when you stare out your window with no curtains, only the green aquarium light filtered through pine trees and rain. I could still go home, you think. Think of your phone, smashed and sparkling on a dust-dry highway miles from here. The wood gets softer every day.

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Kathryn Kulpa teaches writing workshops for Cleaver magazine, where she’s a flash fiction editor. You can find her stories in Atlas and Alice, Cease, Cows, Ekphrastic Review, Flash Frog, No Contact, and other journals. Her work has been chosen for Best Microfiction and the Wigleaf longlist.