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Carrie Spell


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 University.

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