Erica McBeth

Granna bought me the watch. It had a black band. It wasn’t like the other one she got for Nora with the plastic pink band and kitty cat on the face.

“Are you sure she’s thirteen?”

“I’m her mama.”

The windows fogged up with the heater running. I pressed my hand to the gray to make a print.

“How much is it going to cost?”

They stood outside, crunching in the gravel and I couldn’t hear the answer. I didn’t care what it was anyway. I never got any money. Mama said I got it when she bought me shoes and food.
The sick feeling hadn’t come yet because I hadn’t let it. I let it come when I needed something else to feel. They stood outside talking more and I watched the blinking sign above the bar entrance. It flashed, “The Copper Coin”.

“Not here, my place. We can’t do it here.”

They got in and we rode. I couldn’t see anything but the backs of their heads because I couldn’t see out of the foggy windows. My fingers ran around the rim of the face of the watch.

“How long until we get there?” Mama asked.

“A minute. You stayin’ in the car?”

“No, that’s not part of the deal. I always go.”

She did always go, but it didn’t matter. The car turned and we stopped. The sick feeling was coming.

“Get out.” Mama said to me.

The cold stung like wasps. I followed Mama and she followed the man. We went up flimsy porch steps and into a dark house. The sickness got worse. In the light, the man was tall, scarred on the face and brown haired.

“Don’t be long.” Mama said.
“I want what I paid for. That’s all.” He said.

He pointed down the hall. I thought of the sick feeling. His jeans were dirty and he smelled like kerosene.

“In here.” He said, pushing a door open in front of me.

There were no lights in this room. I caught a slight look at it from the light in the hall, but the door closed. I rubbed the band of my watch. The man moved, but didn’t talk. I heard the zipper and felt myself fall between him and the scratchy quilt on the bed. The sick came and grew and rolled. I ignored my fallen clothes and slid my ear to my watch.
It always hurt, but I never cried. The sweat I felt was never mine, but the blood was. The smell of it tinged the air of sour metallic. It helped me be sicker.
Granna would cry for me. She would if she knew I couldn’t. The bedsprings jammed my ribs. There would be bruises. I’d seen them before. I couldn’t hear the ticks of my watch. I rubbed my ear on it. The sick feeling grabbed my throat and burned in my mouth. I wanted it to stay longer. It pushed against my teeth and coated everything inside. The zipper came again and the door opened. Now, I could hear the ticks of the watch. I tried hard to feel them. The sick feeling went away. I didn’t need it anymore.

Mama came in.

“Get dressed. Time to go.”

I crept off the bed by the light of the hall while she watched me. The thick stickiness spread around the insides of my thighs. I dressed over it and Mama led me outside and into the car. She finished her cigarette before she got in. The man got in and so did the kerosene smell. The windows fogged and I pressed my hand to the gray.

Home | About Us | Events | News | Event Photos