Texas is an angry drunk. She only calls me on Tuesdays, now, but without a doubt I'll pick up and she'll be slurring her words, sentences rotting on her tongue like peach flesh in August. Texas was okay as a girlfriend and sometimes still I miss her laugh, but she had crazy green eyes and spoke only in half-truths. Texas would take my car out for an evening cruise and return days later with new scratches up and down her arms. Texas had a killer rack and a pink birthmark I used to trace with my tongue. Texas once got her period unexpectedly and used my favorite white blouse to stanch the bleeding. Texas bought a loaded pistol and pretended to shoot me every morning at breakfast. She couldn't figure out why I thought this wasn't funny. Texas bit into me like roadkill, like I was another thing she could shoot up. Texas spread-eagled on my bedspread, crying, and I couldn't bring myself to touch her. Texas a lone star running naked through a field of teeth. Texas a burned tongue, atom bomb scars. Texas gone and my car too. I wept without knowing why.
Texas as an exit wound, as an acid burn worming through my stomach. There is heat and then there is heat. There is salt in my gums and in my teeth. Here, we bind our tongues with rope. We lock our doors with scotch tape, peel back layers of skin with grapefruit spoons. Texas as a broken window pane, a leech on my back. On the playground, two girls are play-fighting in the dirt. On the playground, cicadas sing. I pull whole boulders from my stomach, scrape blood from fingernails. There is want and then there is want. Texas as an oil slick, as total darkness. Texas as the trunk of the car and the nights spent inside of it, long flat highway like a ribbon of tar in the cornfields. You meet a blonde boy with a gun and suddenly everything changes. There is fear and then there is fear. I'm speaking about the latter. Texas as a getaway car, as the instant before he pulls the trigger.
Texas on two legs, running towards me. Texas biting at my ankles, pulling on my dress. I left early in the morning and I never went back. A hot enough sun can make jam from red ants. A hot enough sun and your skin will never be the same. I remember burn blisters and I remember you, Texas. Laughing in the darkness, naked as a butcher's cut. In the story I haven't written, the girls turn water into mango juice, tear off their braces with screwdrivers. In Texas, something like a rotten peach grows in my stomach. The girls touch each other and we feel the emptiness cratered in our palms, at the base of our throats. Texas and I have too much in common. A house with a burning basement. Bodies swollen with ghosts. I say I'm leaving Texas. I say I'm never coming home.
Greta Wilensky writes: I am a seventeen year old writer from Lowell, MA. I was the 2015 runner-up in prose for the Winter Tangerine Review Prizes. My work has been published in the Best Teen Writing Anthology of 2015 and Souvenir Lit Journal and is forthcoming in Blueshift Journal, the James Franco Review and Alexandria Quarterly. I was a 2015 YoungArts national winner for short story, and my work has been featured in MoMA PS1 in New York City and in the Department of Education building in Washington, D.C.