From the distance we see four friends: George, Jeff, Rachel, and Ashley; they’re holding each other’s hands and spinning round and round in a circle, with their eyes closed, smiles traced on their healthy, young faces. The year is 2019 and the four friends are playing in the backyard of Rachel’s house, a small blue bungalow on the far reaches of the wealthy neighborhood St. Thomas. George is the youngest and he holds onto Ashley’s hand tighter than the others, his stomach curling up with knots, as he screams in delight and pure ecstasy. The grass is soft and fresh under his bare feet. He steps on a ladybug, squashing it, red splatter spilling on the green, but he doesn’t seem to notice. His eyes stay focused on Ashley, his crush since second grade, the girl not of his dreams, but of a reality, that has not begun to be caught in his grasp, as of yet. He’s floating up and up, jumping sky high, as a Charlie Parker record plays on a turntable, in the background. Rachel is drunk. No one knows this except for Rachel. Every morning she takes a bottle of Jim Bean and mixes it with some Sprite, drinks the concoction in several gulps out of a Styrofoam glass. She’s seen her older brother Andrew Se do it, and she’s always been startled by clichés, fascinated by how they can alter a person’s story, for better, or for shitty. So she drinks, casually ducks her face into her shoulder, each time, there is a rising swell flowing up within her insides. But she doesn’t vomit. She stays calm, keeps going. She’s young, and she’s too busy basking in ignorance. Jeff is the loud one, but not obnoxious. He has a confidence that draws people in, latching them to his friend’s circle, looking forward to his presence. He doesn’t want to spin around in a circle, thinks it looks too much like dancing, and he’s not a dancer. He has two left feet; his secret, not yours to know. The wind is quiet but it pulses through the backyard like an approaching avalanche of sound. Jeff likes to think he can hear voices in the wind. He once heard of this guy named Bryan who was trying to contact his lady-friend Abigail. But that didn’t happen, because the distance between them was like a mountain range—large and impossible to scale. Ashley doesn’t know how much George likes him, knows the tale of the male protagonist charmingly soliciting the female character in every great American novel, every great British novel, every great Latin-American novel, every great Japanese novel, every great novel to begin a life with. She does know this: boys only want one thing, and it’s not your heart. However, they’re both too young to know what they want, so she just continues to spin until her eyes open up, and she lets go of George’s hand, because as her fingers leave his tightly held grasp, hundreds of meteors strike down on St. Thomas, and annihilate every living soul, that has ever had a caring thought for another person.
Andy Tran is a young professional working and living in the Washington DC metro area. His work has been featured in The Virginia. Normal, Defenestration Magazine, and Calliope, and currently at Queens Mob Teahouse. He's a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, and he has a degree in English.