Flumes Volume 1 Issue 1 - Page 27

called an ‘egg.’ Don’t you think that’s unique?” Fitzie asked.

“I think you’re unique,” Shane said and grabbed Fitzie’s hand. And she didn’t resist. Fitzie felt like they crossed some part of the road where she was instantly older. She realized that even though Shane knew her as a child, that even though he could attach memories of her as a little girl to her today, she still felt more grown up than fourteen.

They walked with their hands clasped together, and swayed them in a half arc until they reached the edge of the woods where it broke open to a field of white alyssum with a patch of orange poppies off-center, and where the dirt road from the farm curves south for a little while and then bends back east. There’s a ditch there, inside the curve, that’s so deep people can’t see in it when they’re walking the road in either direction. This was where Shane let go of Fitzie’s hand. She’d thought it was because he didn’t want to run the risk of anyone seeing them, since he’s so much older than her. And she liked this. She liked that they shared a secret. The only other person Fitzie had ever shared secrets with was Harper. The girls had shared a bedroom and whispered secrets to each other as they fell asleep. But that was before Harper moved into the living room.

Harper was sent home from the hospital with four metal pins down the length of her leg. She spent day and night propped up in the living room on a loaner hospice bed. It was made of cold metal with bars running parallel across the top so her leg could hang safely in traction, weightless. She didn’t talk as much as she used to, and she seemed different to Fitzie and their parents. The doctor had told them it was probably the pain medicine he prescribed and that they should be patient with her.

When Fitzie had been on the farm for almost a week, Shane told her what he did. Hecalled himself a “de-beaker.” He burned the tips of the chicken’s beaks off when they were eight weeks old. He said he read about it somewhere, and that it was a way to keep the birds from hurting each other when they were crammed in the cages. He said that most of the time the chicks chirped like crazy when he de-beaked them and that the chirping filled the room, filled his head until that’s all he heard, even after he’d left work. But the way he said this was like he described his favorite hymn because he had raised his hands in the air in front of his chest like he was praising it. At the time she just smiled at him, not knowing what she was supposed to say. Shane had stopped talking then, and smiled back at her all goofy, which made her laugh.

Fitzie tried to talk to Harper about Shane, about what he did to the chickens, but every time she mentioned his name the older girl’s shoulders shrunk inward and Fitzie was worried she’d get into trouble for upsetting her