Erindale Park, Mississauga. More: A misty, cold morning in Erindale Park. Original public domain image from Flickr

So, I’m stuck in a picnic table. Mercifully, no one’s around to see me. Mom’s pulling into the parking lot in the scratched-up woody instead of the Beamer, so at least we won’t be making a new boyfriend mad because we’re late when some fireman has to saw my right hand off. I’m so stupid. If I were smarter, I would’ve reached under the table instead of through the uneven planks, and if I could close the bag of malted milk balls, I wouldn’t drop them through the cracks, and also my wrist wouldn’t be so smooth with fat. But I’m not and I didn’t and I can’t, so I’m trussed atop a wooden platter on a bed of burnt grass, the fleshy mounds hanging over my shorts exposed to the world by my bunched-up polo shirt. The more I struggle, the more the sweet-smelling wood chafes, making my wrist somehow even less attractive than before. Not that anyone wants to look at me anyway. Whether I have two hands or one bloody stump, I can’t see anyone wanting to be my boyfriend.

Speaking of people who won’t be my boyfriend, the entire boys’ JV soccer team is swarming through the park’s gate armed with two-liters of soda, sheet pizzas, and bags of chips. Great. My new options: dying of blood loss escaping their party venue, or dying of embarrassment in about thirty seconds. Will Mom be able to find something in my size for the funeral?

She still hasn’t seen me; the dented green dumpster stands between me and her parking spot. “Jenny! Come on! You need new clothes for school.”

Fine. I wedge my left hand into the table next to my right. While a horde of ants buries the scattered candy, I hope the fire department takes its time. At least until the mall closes. The boy in front is already pointing at me, like I’m an untagged deer carcass strapped to a truck’s hood. Creep. Still, better here with the hyenas than cringing at my bulging reflection in the fitting room mirror as Mom says it looks fine, actually. Or maybe this is another thing I haven’t thought through; their laughter swells as they close in.

Gregory Jones

Gregory Jones studied literature and history while growing up in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. He lives in Albuquerque by way of Philadelphia and Baltimore. His work has appeared in Ligeia and Blood Tree Literature.