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The Short Form

“The Greatest Escape”

Laura van den Berg

Excerpt

I let the man stroke my neck. He rested a hand on my waist. I didn't know his name, but in my mind I had started calling him Bill. Poor Bill. Didn't he know that you should never trust a half-naked girl in a bar at this hour of the night?

Bill asked where else I could make flowers appear from. I fluttered my eyelashes. I leaned forward and slipped my hand inside his pocket. He sighed dreamily. I pulled out his wallet, rolled it up my arm, and slipped it into the back of my bathing suit. This was a variation on another trick my mother had tuaght me, where I vanished a wand by covering it with a handkerchief and sliding it up my sleeve. In the morning, Bill might call the theater and ask Ricky–I threw him a little cash for his silence–about the wallet. But probably Bill's memory would be too foggy to remember where he'd been or who he'd been with. And even if it wasn't, he might be a little embarrassed that he'd spent his night pawing a teenager in a bathing suit. He was married. He probably had a mortgage and kids. He wouldn't want to make trouble.

I leaned in again and told Bill that I needed to freshen up. I kissed his cheek. Why not do him that one small kindness? When I pulled away, he was smiling a sick, stupid. smile. Over his shoulder, I caught Ricky rolling his eyes as he wiped down the bar.

We read it in The Isle of Youth.

Originally published in One Teen Story Vol 1 Issue 3.