The Passed Note Issue 1 June 2016 - Page 35

Jennifer Cox


There were three kids in Mayfield Academy’s junior class who missed school to be hospitalized. Maggie Kirkman was not one of them, but she was jealous of all three. She wanted to kiss them on the mouth for breaking down in the way she couldn’t. She wanted to glide with them on her front porch swing under clouds of blue hydrangeas. She’d comb their hair with her fingers. She’d ask who saved them, and what the hospital was like, and was it worth it? Was it worth it even with their classmates’ vulture eyes and the things their parents said? Maggie was jealous and in love with their sadness because she was sick with it too. Her spine was a scorched candle wick.

Her poet mother said, “You aren’t chubby, you’re delicious.” She said to Maggie and her younger sister, Angeline, “You girls are radiant. You’re vessels. The world is going to pour a sweet future right into you, but you have to run around and catch it.” Maggie did not want to run around to catch anything. When her mother said “vessel,” she pictured the white gravy dish they used on Thanksgiving. She only related to it because she was hollowed out and her bones were porcelain. She was sixteen and not filled with whimsy, fire, lemonade, or gravy. She was not full of anything, no matter how many books she read or how many boys she kissed. Books ended in whispers. Boys kissed her and in three months they were kissing someone else, and she could say nothing because no one promised anything.

Youth was a vessel, but what to fill it with? This question stirred her when she tried to sleep.

“Can you believe Ellen O’Brien’s daughter is in therapy?” her mother said at the dinner table, as light burned in through the stained glass panels and stained their dinner plates red. “What a pretty girl, too. What’s she in therapy for?” Maggie's mother had