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Authors: Alma Fullerton

Walking on Glass

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Walking on Glass

Alma Fullerton

For Jessica,
Chantale,
and Claude
for always being there
when I need them. Love you.

Contents

Date of journal—
between the start and finish

I begin this

under protest.

The further you read,

the more you invade my mind.

Take something from me

I don't want to give.

My thoughts.

You will enter a place

I don't want to be.

My conscience.

Writing a journal

for some shrink

won't make me

feel better.

It won't change

what happened.

It'll just make me think,

and I don't want to think.

Mom thought too much.

Look where it got her.

Shit happens.

We have to

deal with it.

We can't

change it.

Why pick it apart

like a detective

dissects a suicide note.

Only girls

and wusses

write journals.

If Jack finds out

I'm writing one,

he'll hassle me so much

I'll have to beat the crap out of him

just to prove

I'm no wuss.

I know Mom hates him.

He hangs around

with the King's Crypt

and shows up

at our house

wasted.

But I don't care.

Jack has always been

my best friend.

He knows how

to have a good time.

Jack pulls up in a kick-ass

Mustang convertible.

He whoops as he gets out

and grins. “Not bad, hey?”

“Damn right,” I say,

wishing I had the cash

to buy a car

like that.

“Come on,” he says.

I jump in and we head downtown.

We pass some girls we've seen

at some parties,

so he turns around

and pulls up beside them.

“Want a ride?” he asks.

They jump in.

We speed through the streets,

blasting the music

and flipping off people who glare.

And for a while

I forget all about Mom.

I slouch in a chair

across from Dr. Mac.

He takes my journal

and flips through it

without reading,

like he promised.

“I'm glad you're writing.”

He hands it back.

“How's your mother?”

I spin my chair, lean back,

and put my feet up on his desk.

“Same.”

He nods, waiting for me to say more.

I don't, making him ask,

“How are you?”

I shrug. “Same.”

I took the photograph

from the mirror in my mother's room.

Her at the age of eight,

perched high in a tree,

arms stretched out like

an untamed eagle,

prepared to take on

the world.

I keep the picture

in my pocket

so I'll always

remember

the way she was

before she was caged

by a baby

she never wanted.

Dad says,

“Come and see Mom.”

So I do.

Mom,

tucked tight in the bed,

empty minded.

No longer herself,

or anyone else.

Wires force life into a body

left hanging

like a marionette

with no one to pull

the strings.

Dad leans close to her

and whispers,

“You'll come home soon, dear.

Everything will be better.”

I know he really

wants that

to be true,

but the thought of her

coming back

into our lives

makes my insides

flip.

Mom's mood swings

always coincided

with whatever

Dad and I did.

Up and down.

Up and down.

Pulling our strings,

like big yo-yos.

And even now,

when she can't move

or talk,

she's still pulling

those strings.

I don't want her to die.

I just want

it all to

stop.

Does that make me

so terrible?

Mom loved

her roses.

They grew into

prizewinners,

nurtured by her long hours

and tender hands.

They brought her

a sense of fulfillment.

I just let her

down.

I wait outside

on the step for Jack.

Vines tangle

around Mom's roses

like bad times.

I yank at the weeds

and chuck them far

from the garden,

yelling, “Get Out!”

The nosy neighbor,

Mrs. Wingert,

peeks around her curtains.

She glares at me,

like she thinks

I've gone over the edge.

Maybe

I have.

I throw a handful of dirt

in her direction and scream,

“Mind your own damn business.”

She drops her curtain closed,

but I can still feel her eyes

on the back of my head.

By the time Jack arrives,

weeds are scattered over the yard,

my hands are caked with mud,

and I have a headache

from clenching my teeth together

so tight.

Jack pulls into a

parking space near the lake.

He taps my chest and points to

a scrawny kid sprawled

across a bench reading.

“Want to have some fun?” he

whispers.

“Oh yeah,” I go.

He struts over to the kid

and kicks his foot.

“Nice shoes.

Your mom buy them for you?”

The kid jumps to his feet

and glances around,

but the rest of the park

is deserted.

“I asked, did your

mom pay for them?”

Jack barks.

“I—I guess so.”

The kid clutches his book

to his chest.

Jack shoves him down.

“I want them shoes.”

“I d-don't have another pair.”

“You hear that?” Jack says.

“He d-don't have another pair.”

My laughter mixes with Jack's,

and he plows the kid in the face.

The kid covers his nose

as his blood gushes

through his fingers.

Jack turns to leave,

but that kid is staring at me

over his bloody fingers,

and I stand frozen.

I wish that kid would

stop.

But he doesn't.

He stares

like he knows

what my mother did.

He stares

like he knows

why
she did it.

He stares,

like he's expecting me to be nice.

He just keeps staring.

I shift my feet

and look away.

But I can feel him

staring

with eyes the color of

Mom's.

Staring.

“Stop gawking,

you freak!” I say.

But he doesn't.

“Stop looking at me!”

I shove him hard against the bench.

The kid's head snaps back,

like someone pulled an elastic

attached to it.

Jack turns around.

He pounds the kid

across the chin.

The kid falls onto the grass,

bawling

and gripping the sides of his face.

Things slow down in my head.

A movie,

paused,

scene by scene,

as Jack stands over him,

kicking at his ribs,

without giving in.

All because I didn't like the kid

staring.

The look in Jack's eyes

scares me

because I know

the kid has had enough,

and no matter what I do,

Jack won't stop.

“Loser!” Jack rips off the kid's shoes.

He leaves him lying on the ground

bleeding.

He trots to his car,

carrying the shoes

over his head like a trophy.

I see the kid stagger to his

sock feet.

He wipes the blood

from under his nose.

That kid has to go home

and tell his mother

two guys beat him up

and stole his shoes.

And I want to puke.

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