Cover art by Dan Hiller

Phoebe 37.1, Spring 2008

Kim Chinquee

I’d let my hunger ride, knowing that night there was a party.

We went to Stacy’s sister’s house and handed her the money, giving her our orders. She must’ve been twenty-five or thirty, and she put her smoke out, dipping it into the ashtray. She knew what we wanted.

While Stacy and I waited, we entertained her daughter; Stacy’s niece was two, and she showed us her favorite on TV, some sitcom where the cops always won. She pointed to the good guys then said she had to use the potty.

After Stacy’s sister came back with the grocery bag, we said thanks and headed. We stuck the two liters in Styrofoam in Stacy’s trunk and had a glass beforehand, riding around with our plastic cups, sipping like the drinks were exotic.

By the time we reached the party, the liters were cold and our cups weren’t, so she took hers and I took mine and we drank them straight from the bottle.

I sat on a bench. Some people passed a joint and I took a hit. It never did anything to me, but I felt cool sucking on the paper or the pipe, no matter, like I fit in.

The boy who kept dumping me sat with me and said he heard about my problem. I told him to fuck off, I didn’t have a problem, and how would he know? He didn’t deserve to know. Like he cared about my problem.

I told Stacy I wanted to go.

When we got back to her place, her mom was sitting on the sofa. Her mom was crying. Stacy’s niece was running around without her clothes on.

Stacy’s mom said I should call my mother. My head was spinning and I asked what for. She said I should go home. I called my mom but there was no answer, so I left a message. I was supposed to be staying at Stacy’s for the night. She sat with her mom and put her arm around her. Stacy was so good. I wanted to be like her. Her mom said that when she went to get the baby, she found the sister in the garage, the car running. She found the baby sleeping. The dryer was still on. Stacy’s sister’s body was in the car and her soul had gone somewhere else. I wondered if Stacy was sober. She’d drunk all of her cooler.

My mom came, she stumbled, telling me we had to go home. I cried in the car. My mother said sometimes this stuff just happens. She slurred her words, drunker than me.

Kim Chinquee is the recipient of a Henfield Prize and a Pushcart Prize. She writes flash fiction, short stories, novels, nonfiction, and poetry. She is a regular contributor to Noon, Denver Quarterly, Conjunctions, and has also published work in Ploughshares, The Nation, StoryquarterlyFiction, Mississippi Review, and over a hundred other journals and anthologies. She is the author of the collections Oh Baby, Pretty and Pistol, senior editor of ELJ (Elm Leaves Journal), and associate editor of New World Writing. She lives in Buffalo, NY.