Inspired by Carolyn Forché


What you have suspected is true. The girl at the counter was kidnapped. Her neck had a gash that was long and scabbed. It curved from her ear to her throat. Her boss counted baguettes, her lover tied on his apron, her co-worker swore at the register. There was a businessman ordering soup, a broken plate, a knife on the wooden block. The fire engines cried past the windows. In the booth was a bum. He was on his cell phone. On the receipt there was a code to turn the handle on the bathroom door. In the glass cases there were pedestal plates holding cookies like in Martha Stewart’s kitchen. You gave your order, Greek salad, potato chips, bakery item for 99 cents, a beeper was available to signal their readiness. The gash in the girl at the counter squirmed with the movement of her acquiescence. The man brought hot breath to her cheek, a palm to her mouth, the knife to her neck. You were asked if you wanted to stay or to go. There was a call of a name from the cooks. You tried to imagine everything. There was the lyrical sweep of the expert hand of a chef at a carving station. The girl told you your number. You raised your arms and stepped back. Your gut said her throat might open and spill out her pain on your hunger. The girl said to you with her gash: be somebody. The vision of her capture returned with a ravenous growl. Her trust bled out on the subway platform. The flaps of her skin were like raw coral. There is no other way to say this. She ran her finger over the scar, winced at the hard bumps, seared them into your brain. They writhed and exploded there. I want you to remember this, she said. As for your judgment of my gumption, serving you like this and holding it all together, you can go fuck yourself. She picked up the knife on the block and held it in the air. Something for your ego, no? she said. The saliva in your throat quivered with the breeze of her gesture and the glint of the blade. The saliva in your throat tasted blood.


Elizabeth Mastrangelo


During the day, Elizabeth Mastrangelo teaches English to ninth and eleventh graders. At night, she attends Emerson College’s MFA program in Creative Writing as a Dean’s Fellow. Liz also works as a freelancer, ghostwriting romance novellas and website copy. She lives north of Boston with her husband, daughter, and son, who support her dreams and provide her with funny and dramatic material for her stories. Liz has a short short fiction piece in the Spring 2014 issue of the Sheepshead Review and a poem forthcoming in Black Heart Magazine. She blogs about teaching, womanhood, and motherhood at her site,

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