Francine Witte ~ Leftover Boys

Tommy and Bobby. Geometry class. Def Leopard tee shirts and gelled-up hair. They were like the fruit our moth­ers taught us to put back. Apples with bruis­es, berries gone squish. They weren’t much, but then, nei­ther were we. Fleshbelt under our crop tops and fake tat­toos. Nobody look­ing, but we want­ed more.

Old Mr. Barren, tap-tap­ping his chalk nub front of the class. Eyes for­ward, he’d say. What’s the answer, he’d say.

Kevin and Danny, they were the answer, though we didn’t say. Back of the class­room. Flameless fire. Gorgeous and plum.

In the air all around us, tri­an­gles obtuse and lean­ing away from them­selves. Same way we were pulled to the sound of leather squeal­ing from their jack­ets. How we want­ed to bury our faces there.

And then, Mr. Barren. His long gray suit next to us. Teacher smell, old paper and cafe­te­ria milk. “Three times to the principal’s office,” he said. “Care to make it four?”

Everyone watch­ing. Looking at us, the way they nev­er did. We were movie star trou­ble. Danger drop­ping on us like a red-car­pet spot­light. We looked at Kevin and Danny. Their eyes almost meet­ing ours.

After class, the hall­way, We leaned against the cool, green wall. Kevin and Danny breez­ing by us, scent of leather as they passed. We watched them get­ting small­er and smaller.

And Tommy and Bobby, trick­ling last out of the class­room. “That was bitchin’” one of them said. “Walk you to French class?” one of them said.

The two of them look­ing at us. The near emp­ty hall­way. Their arms going around us, their hands on our shoul­ders, moist and uncer­tain like skit­tery fish.


Francine Witte is a poet, play­wright, and flash fic­tion writer. Her sto­ries and poems have appeared in SmokeLong Quarterly, Wigleaf, Passages North, Mid-American Review, and many oth­ers. Her flash fic­tion col­lec­tion, Dressed All Wrong for This, was the 2019 win­ner of the Blue Light Press award, her novel­la, The Way of the Wind, received a high­ly com­mend­able men­tion in the Bath Flash Fiction Award for 2019 and was pub­lished by Ad Hoc Fiction. Her lat­est poet­ry col­lec­tion, The Theory of Flesh was pub­lished last year by Kelsay Books. Her flash fic­tion chap­book, The Cake, The Smoke, The Moon, is due out in September 2021. She is a for­mer high school English teacher. She lives in NYC.