J. Bradley


Carl used a fresh stick every time he wanted to pretend I was a snook after school; the drought and the fish kills in the Indian River made it hard to do any real fishing. I was afraid what Carl would do if he ever caught me. “You should always eat what you catch,” my father taught me. I wasn’t sure if Carl would take things far enough where he would open me up and pull my guts out, then my bones, then carve up what was left.

After everyone went to bed, I crept to the bathroom with the biggest mirror, and stripped down. Carl left a bruise shaped like Utah on my chest this time. I pulled out the hydrogen peroxide, tipped it far enough to dab a Q-Tip in it. I winced as I swabbed the bruise, the hydrogen peroxide fizzing, becoming milky against the wound. I wondered if the broken blood vessels beneath the bruise could pray what would those prayers be. I joined them, asked the ceiling to convince Carl to throw me back into an ocean of dirt if he ever caught me.

J. Bradley is the author of The Adventures of Jesus Christ, Boy Detective (Pelekinesis, 2016) and Pick How You Will Revise A Memory (Robocup Press, 2016). He lives at jbradleywrites.com.