ISABELLE GILBERT FICTION CONTEST READER’S CHOICE
I met Jill when I was twelve years old and living in a van. My mom stopped at a pay phone in Clovis. It was a hot day and I sat on the van’s running board. Jill’s mom had product, my mom wanted to sell it. From Humboldt she got weed, from Mexico she got coke, from Fresno, apparently, she got acid. I drew a heart in the glittering sand with the toe of my shoe. When my mom came back to the van she said, “Get in. There’s a girl your age there.” I climbed into the back. I asked what the girl’s name was. “No idea,” my mom said. She held out her hand for a bag of peanuts and kept it there until I found one for her. It was late afternoon when we arrived. I’d been to other trailer parks, but this one was sparse. The trailers were far apart and no grass grew. Some were fragile with rust. Some had wood or tin shacks built up against them. We drove toward an oasis of brush. On the other side was a large, new-looking tow trailer, a pickup, and an old car. I heard fast pops, then a whizzing sound. My mom stopped the van and I got out. I looked. I saw Jill. I’d had playmates in Humboldt and I saw other kids sometimes, in restaurants and at rest stops, but they had houses and bathrooms and new clothes. I never understood those kids or liked them. They seemed tame, like house dogs. I was a wolf. 25
Fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and art selected for phoebe's Spring 2018 issue.