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Short Story: "Lines"

By Micaela Myers


                In the morning she ate her cereal dry, leaning over her bowl, picking the raisins out with her tongue, then smashing the bran until it was powder, adding a little milk and making rows of muddy bran until the bottom of her bowl looked like a tiny farm, freshly plowed and ready to be planted. When she tipped the bowl to slurp up the rows, she did it loudly, like a farm animal, looking at her mother’s fiancé, who always stood making or drinking his coffee in the kitchen, grimacing at her, waiting for the day he could say something.

            In school she ripped paper out of her spiral notebook. She liked to tear it fast, to hear the sound it made. Then she spent a long time cleaning the edges of the paper, pulling the frayed pieces off and making a pile on her desk. After the edges were all removed, she worked on the tiny scraps left in the rings. She did this while the teacher talked. When she was called on to answer a question, she said, “Excuse me,” and walked her shredded paper pieces to the trash.

            In the afternoon she played in the backyard, pulling Bermuda grass up by the roots, which isn’t easy to do. She had to dig her nails down into the ground and get a good hold of the base. If the stalk was going to break off, she could feel it, and she’d dig down lower. She liked the pop, the feeling of release as all the roots came up with damp dark dirt clinging to tiny veins. When she’d cleared a small circle, big enough to dance in, she danced a few steps, then got the rake and raked patterns in the dirt. Straight lines, curved lines, checks.

            On the Saturday her mother got married, she pulled the thin line of lace from along the hem of her dress while the preacher spoke. Then she ran her fingers the wrong direction up the deep green velvet of her dress in long strokes from her thighs to her shoulders. It made her dress crackle with static, her fingers charged with electricity. She looked down at the lines, running her hands flat to erase them, her dress a blank slate once again, then a new set of lines, a new pattern. All through the service she made and remade the green landscape of her body.

 

“Lines” was originally published in the summer 2003 online “Discovery” issue of the Mississippi Review

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