I dream of saving my brother from the girls who will hurt him. We’re on a road trip, the night dark. He drives. I pack a case of water bottles, a bag of tangerines and an extra toothbrush, still wrapped in a package, unopened because I know it’s what he’ll forget. He drops the tangerine peels in the cup holder, the pattern like the whorl of a snail. He wipes the sharp sting of the tangerine juice on the front of his jeans, scrapes the orange rinds from under his nails. Late at night he wants to stop for ice cream, but I say no because I am tired and just want to sleep. He stews in the car, silence a wall between us, and I wish I had said yes. We stop at a carnival. Arcade games and popcorn, a carousel wheel and an empty parking lot, fortune tellers and henna tattoos. A clock without a face. A witch of a girl. And like a star hiding in plain sight, my brother disappears. I walk, Orpheus looking for Eurydice, except I don’t have a lyre or a guitar, only words floating like useless scraps of paper, the world distorted like colored pieces of glass. And I know I cannot go back to my mother, tell her that I have failed at the only thing she has ever asked me to do.
Inspired by Margaret Atwood and Kelly Link, Candace Hartsuyker seeks to uncover hidden truths. She is a first-year fiction student in McNeese State University’s MFA Program. Her flash fiction is set to appear in the December 2017 issue of Foliate Oak.