(my favorite scene)
Bands Of A Small Hurricane

           The storm batters me from both sides of the overhang as I run out of the cafeteria and toward the East wing. 

           When the door slams shut behind me, it sounds like I’m inside a tornado. The rain falling on the skylight, paired with the acoustics of the band room steps, create a pounding echo.

           “Hi,” someone says, and I jump. “Over here.”

            I recognize Travis’s voice, but he’s tucked within the shadows.

            “Where are you?”

            I smell him before I see him. Marijuana. 

            The band room door is unlocked, cracked open and throwing warm light across Travis’s feet. 

            “Janitor left it open,” he says. “Flake.”

            “What are you doing out here?” 

            Travis shrugs. “You’re soaking wet.”

            I look down to assess the damage. My shoes spit rainwater with every step. My stockings are ripped, and my dress droops with moisture, my nipples plainly visible through the fabric. I gasp, horrified, and yank the dress from my body.

            “Way out,” he says, taking another hit off his joint. He passes it to me. “Sharing is caring.”

            “I didn’t know you smoked that stuff.”

            “There’s a lot about me you don’t know.” 

            I pluck the joint from his fingertips.

            “Have you ever?” he asks.

            I shake my head.

            “You take a hit—that means inhale—and hold it in your lungs until you can’t hold it any longer. Got it?”

            Got it.

            The smoke stings my eyes as I hold it to my lips, feeling the wetness of Travis’s saliva on the paper. We’re basically kissing.


            Hold it in your lungs.

            The smoke razes my throat, hotter and harsher than I expected, and I choke, hacking smoke into the empty corridor.

            Travis chuckles. “Keep coughing. It helps the high.”

            My lungs have collapsed. They’ve turned to ash and cinder, crushed into charcoal by the pressure of my ribs.

            Travis places his hand on my back, his touch like an electric eel. And I don’t tell him the urge to cough has passed, because his knuckles are working delicious circles up my spine.

            “This is more fun than the dance,” he says, plucking the joint from my fingers and taking one final hit before pinching it out. 

            Travis withdraws his touch, and my body pulls with it. 

            He leans forward, his gaze so wet I could drown within it. Beautiful, peaceful drowning. I could disappear forever.

            And all I can think is, Kiss me.

            A crack of thunder explodes above us, and I grasp my chest. Only moments ago, my lungs were charred and lifeless, but they’ve been revived. Plucked from the brink of death. 

            The dress melds to my skin once more. I feel the coldness, the wetness, but I don’t care anymore. I want him to see me. 

            Kiss me. Kiss me. Kiss me.

            And he does.

           The band room.

            In the back, behind the tubas, where it smells of brass oil and spit, and no one will ever find us. 

            I peel off my wet dress. 

            He asks me if I’m sure. 

            He says we don’t have to.

            He says a lot of things my brain can’t hold onto, his words slipping through my mind as though covered in baby oil.

            He says he’s never done this before.        

            I say nothing.

            And then my clothes are on the floor, my skin covered in goosebumps rigid as a sea star. 

            Travis is the first person to see me naked, and when he steps back to look at me, I cover myself. 

            He pulls my elbows away, and I could vomit. Maybe from the joint. Maybe not. 

            My breathing grows heavy and fast, echoing from the bells of the tubas all around us.

            I can’t swallow. My mouth is dry, like his kisses have sucked all the moisture from my body. My lips press together, glued forever shut.

            “Wow,” he says.


            And suddenly I can breathe again, swallow again. 

            When his palm slides over my breast, I am sea grass, idle and limp.

            He tells me that we can stop. Just go back to the dance.

            I want to say, Yes. But I shake my head, No.



           I never thought it would be like this. Not here, on the floor of the high school band room. Not with Travis Misker dropping his hat to the ground. Unbuckling his pants. Not kissing me anymore. Not looking at me anymore.

            Look at me.

            Don’t look at me.

            I’m on the floor beside the French horns. The carpet is sticky and rigid, and our clothes are in a heap by the music stands. 

            I lie on my back and wait. 

            Push my legs flat to the floor, squeeze my knees together. 

            And wait. 

            I look to the ceiling, and the exposed piping with chipped paint next to a small yellow window leaking light like twinkling breadcrumbs into the band room. 

            Travis crouches on the floor beside me, naked, his penis hidden beneath the arc of his body like a secret he won’t share. I have no such secrets. 

            When his hands grip my legs, I close my eyes.

            When he pulls my knees apart, then my ankles, I’m grateful for the shadows.

            His abdomen pushes against the underside of my thighs, and I suck in my breath, hold it, like a hit off a joint.

            “Are you ready?” His voice is small and uncertain. 




            “Please talk to me. Do you want to stop?”


            “Are you sure?”

            I can’t say it. Too scared to say it. 

            “Do you still want to do this?”

            I open my eyes because it’s all I can do, but I cannot look at Travis Misker. I look to the window above us, to lighting plunging like an avalanche across the sky.  

            When I finally say, Yes, I expect more hesitation, more conversation. But what I receive is immediate pain.

            A sharp, rigid wound explodes from the softest part of my body. This is not lovemaking. This is not romance atop an abandoned lighthouse. And all I want to do is scream.

            My fingers claw at a carpet too dense to grasp. My heels seek ground, but they’re trapped beneath his body.

            I grimace, gnashing my teeth against the pain, and turn my face to the side so he won’t see saliva foaming from my lips like a mouthful of rabies.

            I’m deformed.

            A monster. 

            Travis rocks into me, over and over, his face turning red, then purple. I’ve never seen Travis’s eyes like this before. His mouth is different too. This person is a stranger.

            I wrap my arms around my face, burying my nose in the crook of my elbow so I don’t have to watch. 

            I can’t breathe, but I don’t care. 

            Please stop. 

            I don’t want to do this anymore. 

            I’VE CHANGED MY MIND!

            But I say nothing as he slices into my body.

            I want to hit somebody. 

            Run away. 

            Rip off my skin.

            But I can’t stop it.

            So I disappear.

            In my mind, I’m on the hippie beach, spiraling into the surf. I feel the waves, the wind. Beside me, the blonde in the crocheted bikini hugs my shoulders and laughs. The shells strung through her hair sway and clack in the wind.

            It isn’t until Travis wheezes into my face and falls atop me that I realize the pain has subsided. I’m raw, cut open, but the violence of it has grown numb.

            A flash of lightning fills the skylight, reminding me of the moment the sun disappears below the horizon—that bright green flash I’ve never seen. A lie. A grand falsehood fabricated by my father.

            A crack of thunder soon follows, and I think of speeding down the Seven Mile Bridge so close to the other cars that the mirrors click as they pass, a mere inch from collision, from plummeting into the ocean. Unlucky.

            And as the thunder fades away, a reverberation is left behind, filling the band room. All around us, the instruments begin to ring and hum like wine glasses stroked by wet fingers. As though in the sudden absence of sound, they have begun to panic.