We're Getting Close
There is a dumpster on fire at the end of the street. I set it on fire
because it contains information—personal
information—that is no longer safe in the house. Someone has
been snooping. I kept this information—OK, it was notes,
passed in class, between Linda and I—in a small metal box
with a lock, and somebody damaged it. Clearly broke into it. How much
they saw I cannot know. Each note was folded as it had been but I would
definitely refold a note after reading it. So.
So I took the whole thing down to the dumpster and threw it in and lit
a match and it turned into fire.
The thing is that those notes between Linda and I were private. I
shared very personal information with her. We had some code words but
you can't hide everything. I figured that my room was private and that
especially my drawers were private and that especially a locked metal
box was private but apparently not. That's why I'm moving out when I
turn 17. Yeah, you can do it when you're 17, look it up. You just have
In order of most suspected to least suspected my suspects go like this:
Eric, Mom, Dad. Dad is pretty much only on there to show how high and
how low I can go, because Dad I think has never even been in my room.
Eric is a shit. Mom and Dad think he is so super blessed because he's
doing well in soccer. Uhhh. That counts for basically nothing. Anyway
he is definitely #1 suspect, especially when paired with any of his
shit little friends. I would not go back to middle school if you paid
The thing about high school is that, yes, I'm not going to lie, it's
hard. But you are way more your own person and you can go out to lunch
and meet new people like Linda.
Linda has this crazy Mom. My God.
OK back to the list. Eric is high up there. If I find out that he did
it I have three options for revenge: 1) tell Mom that he skipped soccer
practice TWICE this season with John Norsh and that he tried a beer at
John Norsh's house when his parents were at Bembes 2) key his guitar 3)
tell Beth Watkins that he has her number highlighted in the school
There is a chance, however, that Mom is involved. Mom is so so
suspicious. I don't mean that I'm suspicious of her doing it (which I am)
but here, in this moment, I mean that she is suspicious of me. She
would like love to read my mind. Anyway I am pretty sure that she
thinks I am up to "no good" but whether she would be so bold as to
break into my personal property I do not know.
She did once ask me to help spy on Eric. Eric was super depressed in
6th. I think it's just because he was sort of a goofy loser starting a
new school. But Mom was like "can you talk to your brother?" And I
wanted to be like uhhh, you.
I guess that isn't spying.
So back to #1 then (like I said #3 simply establishes how low I can go
vs. how high and how sure). The confrontation will be severe and the
punishment swift. Perhaps I will let him choose what punishment he
receives. I would put big money on key guitar. Ranking 1-3: guitar,
There is one last threat. What if this fire gets out of control? I can
see from my window that it is not, you know, small.
It is whirling out of the blue box. It is kind of shaking.
What if this fire gets out of control and takes down a section of tree
or sets the neighbor's house on fire, starting with their tree? We're
getting close. What if when the fire takes down the section of trees or
peels the shingles Dad calls out and we all run downstairs and stand in
the dining room and look out the bay window and I look at Eric and he
looks at me and I hold up the school directory and he says "I did it"?
Will that make it all better? Should I get the hose?
Meredith Alling lives and writes in Los Angeles. Her work appears or is
forthcoming in Hobart, Pithead Chapel,
Nailed Magazine, and Wyvern Lit.
You can find
her on Twitter @meremyth.
Detail of drawing on main page courtesy
of Andrea Joseph.
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