“The same,” I say. I talk loudly to drown out the axe murder sounds. “No change. I kinda feel like he’s already dead.” I jump at the dark thing before realizing it’s just a stick. “And then, like, I think about all the other people in my life who could basically be dead too for all I know.” Lizzie laughs. “Harsh.” “No, I get that,” Hannah says slowly. “Everyone acts like death is the Big Deal, but people leave all the time.” She starts speaking faster. “I mean, there are hundreds of people who could have been dead for years for all I know. Everyone I worked with at Bertucci’s last summer: dead. The girls from softball camp: dead. The entire state of New Hampshire: dead. That kid Ben Bouche, who I kissed in middle school? He could have died years ago.” I snort air out my nostrils. “I wouldn’t know my mom was alive if she didn’t call me once a month to tell me how a garden hose symbolized her therapist’s penis in a dream.” They laugh. “Except for Facebook,” Lizzie says after a while. “That’s how I know people are still alive.” “Yeah, that’s true.” I kick a pine cone back into the woods, “Except for Facebook.” We get to the beach. An abandoned lifeguard chair juts out of the sand. Lizzie and Hannah strip down in the darkness. Lizzie is wearing men’s boxers and no bra. The pocket where the penis would go flaps a little when she walks. Hannah turns to me. “You coming?” “I’ll meet you,” I say, though we know I won’t. I sit down and begin to pile the cool dark sand over my bare feet. Some highschool kids are making noise across the pond. They keep telling each other how fucked up they plan to be. “We’re getting blackout tonight, fam.” The lights from Boston make a hazy cloud. I keep plunging my fingers into the cool sand. When I’ve buried myself up to my calves, my cell phone goes off. It’s my dad. It’s 1:45. I don’t answer. I fall asleep for a moment. When I wake up, Hannah and Lizzie are chasing each other across the beach. “Come here!” “No!” Hannah grabs the empty air and they collapse laugh24 | PHOEBE 48.1
Fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and art selected for phoebe's Winter 2019 issue.