At Least Now I Know by Lauren Bolger
That night, I had to interrupt you and your friends from pretending your flashlights were wieners. I was inclined to ignore that minor detail, as it took me seven listens of “Declaration of Love” by Celine Dion on my Walkman and mainlining two twelve-ounce bottles of Mountain Dew to psych myself up to talk to you, and I wasn’t about to back down.
I asked if you wanted to go somewhere. Your eyes were serious when you turned to me. You were smiling at one corner of your mouth. I got palpitations, which made me very sure my heart would explode. If not from the caffeine, then from your ridiculous not-even-a-smile.
“I know a place,” you said. You took my hand and we walked down a bumpy gravelly path I knew, and then we veered off that path. A small branch hit me on the forehead where I didn’t know there were trees.
“Where are we going?” I whispered. You told me the counselor’s lounge. It was really late and the lights were out. I heard a banging noise, like a hammer.
Clunk. Clunk. Clunk. We continued up this back dirt path as though the noise was expected. As though this was a construction site. As though it were the middle of the god-damn day.
This guy’s going to kill me, I remember thinking. Then: Stop thinking that. You’re ridiculous.
Long story short, you were friends with all the counselors, who were like six years older than you. Weird. Everyone was partying in the bathroom, hiding from the more grown-up counselor. Some guy I didn’t even recognize was trying to fix the sink with a hammer. But that’s fucking stupid. You broke the sink. You can’t fix plumbing by hitting it with a hammer. I’m almost sure you’ve got to tighten it, or something.
The whole place stunk like pot and spilled beer. They offered me some. I told them no thanks. You pointed to me to ask me something and said “Umm,” and I thought oh shit, of course. He doesn’t even know my name. I waited about twenty minutes, then told you I didn’t feel good and went back to my bunk.
I mean, at least now I know. But that’s all I can really say about that night.
Lauren lives in a suburb near Chicago with her spouse and two young kids. She has a short story in horror anthology Beyond the Levee and other Ghostly Tales and flash fiction featured in 101 Words. Poetry is forthcoming in two publications. Find her on her website at www.laurenbolger.com. Twitter: @renbolger