Cyclones in Kansas

Posted on: April 9, 2015

“Pass me those papers will ya, Thea."

His fingers always draw my attention. They seem more capable than the rest of him, like they belong on a different person. His arms are okay, and his eyes are nice enough, but his hands, his fingers, always pull me in. Whether they are picking away at guitar strings or unbuttoning my jeans, I just can’t help but marvel at them in action.

“You start them at the same time and turn down the movie volume. It totally works?”

I turn my attention away from his mouth and back to his hands. I would much rather watch those capable fingers as they roll the joint than listen to another one of his half-true stories. He holds the first puff of smoke in his lungs, and continues talking without expelling any air. Then he leans back and breathes the cloud up into the rafters.

It smells like crap in here, and it makes me want to gag. The shop, which is busy Monday to Friday, is home only to us on weekends. His dad said it was okay for him to bring some friends over to hang out in the break room when the shop is closed. He doesn’t mind about the occasional night of drinking, and he pretends not to know about the pot. We always open the doors wide on Sundays, and the place is aired out before the mechanics arrive on Monday, covered up by the smell of motor oil and gasoline.

I take the offered joint from his fingers, though I don’t really want any. The thought of the skunky smoke in my mouth makes me want to vomit again, so I pass it back to him without bothering to take a toke. He doesn’t notice.

“I watched that movie a million times as a kid without having any idea how trippy it was.”

I manage a grunt to make it look like I care what he is telling me. Satisfied, he continues talking, leaving me to my thoughts, thoughts I don’t want to think anymore.

He taps out the ember of the joint against his shoe before stuffing it in his cigarette pack and shuffling closer to me.

“So you wanna watch with us next weekend?”


“The Dark Side of the Moon thing.”

“I don’t know.”

He tugs a strand of hair from my ponytail and twists it around his finger. I am again watching his hands, trying to ignore the rest of him pushed up against me.

“You feel okay?”


“No more puking?”

“I’m fine.”

He starts kissing my neck and his hands leave my hair.

"No, I can't."

"What's the harm? It's not like it matters now anyway."

"I'm not having sex an hour before I get there. Fuck off."

I push away and go outside to call Aunt Milly. She answers on the first ring. She said she understood that I had to see him, but I know she worried he would change my mind. He always talks so big, so full of bullshit. I guess she thinks I could fall for it, in my condition; that I might run away with him.

Back in the garage, he is stretched out on the couch smoking the rest of the joint. I pull my school backpack out from under his feet.

"K, so I'm leaving, I guess."

"Wanna come back over after?"

"I don’t think so."

"Call me when it’s done. I just can't be there when they do it. Ya know?"

I nod. Of course I know. I don't want to be there either.


One more hour until I get to be on the other side of this, done with the waiting, done with the vomiting, done with the fucking conversations that always end up at the same place.

“Health card?”

“Yes, I have her card right here.” I watch Milly pull the stack of plastic from a flap in her purse, a card for each of us kids.

I try to stand taller as I enter the waiting room. I don’t want to look so young among these women in their polished shoes with their ruby-painted lips. I am old enough, old enough to understand, old enough to consent, old enough to pay the price, but I don’t look it. I feel their eyes on me, I feel their pity, and I look down at the scuffed toes of my red leather boots, clunking my heels together, wishing I was home.

“It’s okay, Thea. This will all be over soon. One day, when you’re ready, you will have a real baby.”

I wish Milly would stop fidgeting, stop touching me so much. It doesn’t help me; maybe it helps her. They call my name, and I walk away from her. This part I have to do alone. I can share the rest with her. She wants to take the guilt, the sin, away for me, but when it comes down to it, I am walking on my own two legs.


They said it wouldn't hurt much, and they were right, but the tight, pinchy feeling drives me nuts anyway. The nurse, the same one who handed me a blue gown when I arrived, strokes my hair like Milly used to do when I was little. She smiles at me, but I can’t smile back, not with the rubber mask clamped tight against my face. I suck the gas deep into my lungs. As the world begins to stutter, I picture a black hole, swirling in the dead, flat centre of my body; deep where my insides are being scraped clean. I focus all my thoughts on the twirling mess of anti-matter filling me up.

The hungry tornado gobbles the contents of my womb, leaving me empty. Alone again with my own black and blue heart.

The cramps confirm that it’s over. The question has been answered, the decision has been made, I will not be a mother today. I will go back to being just Thea, Thea the lonely, the selfish. My body knows it’s done, confirmed by the ache, and later the finality of the bright, slick blood. Done.



Written by: Sarah Scott
Photograph by: Marshall Blevins

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