When we were children, my brother and I
invented Sock Ball, hitting socks across the living room with wooden
lacrosse sticks, running between two peach couch pillows. Homerun if
the sock hit the living room wall. Automatic win if you broke
something in Mother's wall unit.
We washed my dadís car in the driveway on
Sundays. We filled a red bucket with soapy water and sprayed each
other with the hose. We slammed our fists into each otherís faces
on the front lawn. Everything was green.
Now my brother lived in California, where the
water was freezing. I pictured Gidget on a surfboard. I pictured
whatever fake movie image I wanted to. It didnít matter. My brother
was in computers and never went to the ocean. He was in front of a
screen all day, typing e-mails, maybe firing people. I was in
Alabama, where there was a beach but I didnít live near it. Still,
everyone had a tan, the orange kind from the salon. The girls were
pretty in their own fake way.
I fired people, too. The economy was a piece of
shit. Someone was getting ready to fire me maybe. Some veteran of
the company who didnít like my attitude. It didnít matter.
My brother had a son. I had a miscarriage. My
brother was the only one I told. I bled the baby out for two weeks.
I bled the baby out at the job I had that I was about to be fired
from. A big pad soaked it all up. I sat on the toilet in the office
and I pictured a map: California over on the left, Alabama at the
bottom right. I thought of being a child again, of pounding my
brother in the face and him pinching my wrists together and laughing
because it never hurt.
Carrie Spell's work has been published
in McSweeney's, Black Warrior Review, Georgetown
Review, The Encyclopedia of Alabama, Beloit Fiction
Journal, and many other magazines. She also has a story
forthcoming in the anthology Online Writing: The Best of the
First Ten Years. She teaches writing and literature at Auburn