The Passed Note Issue 1 June 2016 - Page 36

no eye for any sort of breakdown except the downward spiral of a bird’s flight. She wrote poems about flower buds and infant skin and weddings.

“That’s terrible,” her father said. “What else does she want to be happy? They’re richer than God.”

Maggie loved her family and she wanted to protect them from her laughable, ineffable sadness. She smiled for them. She did her chores. She braided Angeline’s hair in the evenings so it would curl in the mornings. She had gold memories scattered in her brain somewhere, she knew, but she couldn’t find half of them.

When Kim Porelli came back from the eating disorder clinic in December, her white belly stuck out from the ridge of her t-shirt like a rubber ring and her face was puffy. Technically, midriff t-shirts weren’t allowed at Mayfield, but no one said anything to her. She stood in the corner of their homeroom meeting in the physics lab and for the first time in a month said here! after Craig Porat. Everyone turned to look at her with owl eyes and necks. The bald and bullish chemistry teacher, Mr. Jensen, gave her an apologetic, bewildered nod. After, in the hallway, Maggie put her hand on Kim’s backbones, which still jutted out like scar tissue.

“Glad you’re back, Kim,” she said.

Kim crossed her arms and grimaced. “I’m not.” Before Maggie could protest, Kim turned and walked quickly through the current of students, her curls bouncing behind her.

Maggie watched Kim’s every move for the next few weeks. She made a point to sit next to her in choir and listen to her soprano. She pretended to stare out the wall of windows at lunch but she was watching Kim make a Broadway production out of eating a slice of pizza and a salad with light Italian dressing. You’re pretending, Maggie thought. No one heals that quickly. Maggie played cartographer with Kim’s body whenever she saw her in the halls. There were hills where there had been valleys; there was mud where there had been desert.