“Fly,” a short story that I’ve been nurturing for some time now, has been published in the Winter 2017 edition of Sixfold Journal. These Bronx girls remind me so much of the girls I grew up with. They are, in a lot of ways, those girls.
This is how it begins:
Everything in the world makes you feel like you are fly or you can fly when you’re a kid. With the right doorknocker earrings and Reebok classics, jeans fitting to your curves like buses speeding down Webster Ave, you feel like gravity is for punks.
But time tells you the truth. And life, I guess.
My best friend Trudy reads everything. Her hair is a black cotton ball forever reaching for the clouds. We are both the youngest in our families, which are like trees with tangled branches: Older siblings, different daddies, irritated mothers. She wears boys’ clothes from the Goodwill—trousers that her skinny legs peek out of at the ankle, white button-down shirts with suit vests. My mother says she’s odd. I figure she’s just creative. I asked her once why she dressed that way and first she said I like doing things different from everybody else. I nodded and looked in her face. She was staring at a distant plane overhead when she added I can’t really afford anything else.
That’s why we’re friends. Trudy tells the truth, even when it makes her feel bad. Only poor people spend all their money trying not to look poor, I told her. She pulled her eyes from the sky then and smiled at me like we had the juiciest secret ever.
Anyway, it was Trudy who said Toni Morrison wrote that if you want to fly you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.
How you figure out what that is, I asked her.
Practice letting go of shit, probably.
But we ain’t got shit. What’s to let go of?
She didn’t answer at first. We sat on the cracked cement steps outside the cafeteria after lunch during thirty-minute recess.
Finally, she said, Easier for us to fly, then.