You were Mia Wallace for Halloween and I was sexy Harper Lee. ‘How to fake blow’ was stained on your phone’s search history under the spiderweb cracks that cut up my fingers where I typed in my name. In all honesty, I wasn’t even going to leave the house, but stoned in bed with headphones digging into the pillow is not where new friends are made. Dancing at the church party, we saw four other Mia Wallace’s, each with blood running from their nostrils to the bleached spores of their mustaches. I thought we’d reek of fog machine juice forever, but it leapt from our clothes the second we stepped outside into hurricane season South Carolina. Into pie crust cooked with yams that were already purple at the edges.

‘Don’t worry, I’m easy to forget about. You won’t even notice I’m gone, I promise,’ was what you said but it was all glitter sleeting from the band of my bowl cut. It was all wet palms.

The next year you were ‘Frankenstein Mia Wallace.’ Same wig, white buttoned-down and blood, but with olive skin that made you look seasick, finished by a surgical scar you drew from one corner of your forehead to the other in the visor mirror of a Taurus. An expert on pretending with baking soda. On glued-in bolts. Here it was agreed upon that we were the kinds of people who bail and eventually there would come a time when we probably wouldn’t talk anymore. Realistically, most people who are friends now won’t still know each other in five or so years, right? It’s just how things work. Two Halloweens is a good run, let’s just appreciate that. But then the make-up became real.

We found out you were allergic to cheap face paint that night and for some reason I obliged when you asked me to take an Instagram of you in the hospital bed. True devotion to the character. Method acting in a wing of Scorpio babies born under another tropical storm.

By the fourth annual Monster Smash we got more specific. This was getting a little ridiculous. I asked you not to watch over me if your dream ever came true. That recurring one about a poisonous grasshopper biting you in the field behind your parent’s house. It was narcissistic to think you’d want to follow me around when you had the galaxy to explore, but we still shook on it. We would not hang out as the drafts that make curtains look like they are breathing. I wouldn’t haunt you and under no circumstances would you ever, in a million years, haunt me.


There were no more costume parties. There were gaps. There was returning with a sketchy tattoo of some non-existent planet, which was really a logo the city branded to you. You drew re-imagined Disney princesses in Photoshop while I stayed at home, making fun of you to my friends in our father’s armchairs. ‘Miriam used to be normal. She was cool. Remember that?’ Before you were seized by tall buildings and drooled back out an entirely different person. Jeggings to high-waisted jeans. Dust to dust.

I heard it happened driving home from your parent’s house in the Pennsylvanian woods. You swerved to avoid hitting a deer and your Taurus ended up upside down in the empty river, blood rushing to your head to rush out of it. They tested you for chemicals to see if that was a factor, but only found shrimp scampi in your stomach because that’s what you always asked your mom to make. Your dad began to feel something again from the Classics of Rock Pandora station. He will spend the rest of his days hunting for deer. Avenging your death with bottle upon bottle of Buck urine.

It had been over a few years since we had talked and the person you were to me was made from different parts. Frankenstein, not Uma Thurman. Only the traits I chose to recall, branded cattle iron style on the rosy sirloin of my brain. You said ‘it’s all about authenticity. I know that incision mark is there, even though it’s covered by the bangs of the wig.’ I thought a lot about the scorpion kids born when we met and how they were all old enough to run away from home or hide up in trees now.

I didn’t go to your stupid wake. I heard they played an acoustic cover of Van Halen’s ‘Dance the Night Away’ like it was a g.d. trailer for an erotic thriller. My eulogy would’ve involved the shrimps trapped in your belly, that you decided to take with you. They were going down with the ship, into the barren tributary of the Susquehanna. Miriam would do that. No one would’ve gotten it except us.

But these were not things that were said. These were not things that happened at all. Rather, I stayed at home to watch a movie on my laptop and during a quiet part I think I heard your sneeze. We didn’t make it weird, though I knew it was you. The actual you. The kind of person who, no matter how much they spit in your hand, will break a pact.

Travis Dahlke is the author of Milkshake (Long Day Press) and Mount Summer (Out to Lunch Records). His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Joyland, HAD, Juked, and The Longleaf Review, among other journals and collections.

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