Most of the Time You’re Fine
Katie Jean Shinkle

Anna’s boyfriend got his head blown off over five dollars.

We walk along the bridge where it happened, carrying a two-liter filled to the brim with various parts of our collective mother’s liquor cabinets. We swig and sway, we pass it along as if it were a secret, each pulling a cheek full, swishing it around, gulping loudly. We wipe our mouths on our arms. We do not say a word.

We walk along the same bridge where that one girl’s tit fell out of her shirt, where the boys threw her trapper-keeper homework in the river. We remember the way the girl looked at us crookedly, as if to say she didn’t want to go with the boys that afternoon or that maybe she did and didn’t understand why we were interrupting their go-ahead, their green light.

Across the bridge, down the street, is the church filled to the brim with blubbering people trying to forfeit their denial for a piece of understanding. We will all die here the brick building suggests, we will all end up this way. We hang back across the street, lingering, pulling weeds from the edge of the street the way we saw men on the side of the highway do, their green reflectors on the backs of their knees glowing in the headlights at dusk. They are always unshaven.

Anna’s boyfriend’s head fell apart like the Zapruder film, one piece slid backwards, one piece look liked it splayed across his girlfriend’s dress. If we could play the thirty seconds over and over again, we would see he was smiling and the blood didn’t come for a breath. His girlfriend would look like she was in the moment between laughter and tears and if the moment was on mute, we wouldn’t know the difference. Here is a mouth wide open and filled with future—a tooth for each year of life, a tooth for each child birthed to term, birthed at all.

Katie Jean Shinkle serves as Nonfiction Editor for Black Warrior Review and Assistant Poetry Editor for DIAGRAM. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in American Poetry Journal, BlazeVOX, NANO Fiction and dislocate, among others.

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