Did we know what it meant, what it was about, this story, if story it could be called—just four pages of conversation, dos cervezas, a train station, and white hills? Did we—we, meaning twelve of the twenty, the female portion of an eighth period class, a dozen seniors in Mrs. Ruefle’s room where Dickinson gazed down from one wall and Hawthorne from another and, through the windows, January melted on the playing field and snow islands shrank on the winter-beaten grass—did we get it? Not only the operation and what that was hinting at. All of it: how two people can talk and talk and not hear shit, how dark intimacy in the blare of a morning can flatten like week-old Sprite, how desire embarrasses once broadcasted and cringes and dies once refused, how love is not exempt from reservations and rules (find out how serious he is first, how seriously he takes you, and—the quip going around—fuck it but don’t suck it), how the body can do things, how the body can make things, and most shocking of all: how the body can hold another body. Did each of us, Kerri, Jennifer, Sonya, Vickie, Tiana, Brenda, Megan, Courtney, Carol, Anne, Mesande, and me—in our supple, thinking awesomeness—get it?
How could we not?
And we would continue to get it. Again. And again.
Melissa Ostrom teaches English in rural western New York, where she lives with her family. Her fiction has appeared in Lunch Ticket, Juked, Monkeybicycle, and elsewhere, and her first novel, Beloved Wild, is forthcoming from Macmillan in the winter of 2018.