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The Short Form

“Rosaleen, If You Know What I Mean”

Eugene Cross


Besides Marty there were seven others, most of them older, all of them boys except for one girl who sat directly across from him. The girl had close-cropped hair that she’d bleached the color out of. It looked to Marty as though her skull was showing through, and he wondered if that was the effect she’d intended. Marty waited while the others stood. Some of them introduced themselves with an annoyed tone as though speaking to a younger sibling. Others spoke with their heads down, chins glued to their chests. Most of them had been there before and seemed familiar with each other. When it was Marty’s turn to stand, the bug-eyed boy said, “He’s in here for fighting. Can you believe it?”

“Quiet, Elliot,” Ms. Higgins said, “or I’ll place a call to your father.” The boy’s head dropped.

“Go on, Marty,” Ms. Higgins said. Marty gave the information she had asked for. He was twelve years old. He liked dessert pizza and swimming. He had a hamster named Lebron James. He could not remember what he’d dreamed last.

We read it in Fires of Our Choosing.

Originally published in American Short Fiction: Winter 2009.