Girl, Man, Girls
Charles Elin

Maryanne lived in the suburbs. She liked her room but not all the time. Every weekend she went somewhere else: city, country, beach, woods. Coming home on Sunday was part of walking out. Either way she was leaving. It could have been different. Sometimes friends offered her a place to stay. But she wanted her own bathroom. It was better to keep moving than have only some of what she wanted.

She kept her hair short and liked being teased about being a boy. She used to hold on to her friend Toddy while rolling down hills. He wasn’t very heavy as long as they kept rolling.

Maryanne knew how to get around. A man about her father’s age picked her up. He didn’t say much. Maryanne directed him vaguely. He was on his way to visit his mother, who was sick. He hadn’t become what she had hoped. Or so he thought.

Maryanne waited for him to make a pass. He didn’t. Not really. She tried to comfort him. She couldn’t do it with just her voice. She moved closer. He took her hand and put it on his knee. He didn’t want to embarrass her. She asked to be let off at the edge of a forest. Almost immediately, five girls in an SUV stopped for her. A few miles later they pulled over at a rest stop. They were noisy and not very interesting.

Maryanne stretched for a minute and moved quickly through dense brush. The girls shouted for her but she was gone. She found her way back to the road and put out her thumb. It didn’t take long.

Charles Elin’s work has been published in The Delineator, Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art, Rosebud, California Quarterly, RiverSedge, and elsewhere. He has worked with writer/editor Larry Fagin since 2012.