“What Scares You” by Lance Larsen

Wednesday afternoon at the YMCA

The girl lounging on the floor said, Rabbits—because their pink eyes glow like lasers. Rabbits are nada, said her friend. Try blood. We carry it around every day. Every day it tries to get out. The boy who wore flip flops even in winter described an apocalyptic Sunday when he woke up and his Xbox and three brothers were gone so he was forced to read a book. The boy without thumbs said, Once I dreamed I was a broken-legged deer being chased by a thresher machine, then I was the thresher machine chasing the deer. Twin one said, Eggs—the way they might hatch into dinosaurs. Her sister said, Me too, only baby scorpions. One girl wearing her brother’s football jersey said, I’m afraid of getting my face burned off like that freaky mom who ends up loving the world anyway. . . Actually, forget her. What scares me most is my parents getting back together. The boy by the window took off his glasses. You know that sound the stars make, he said, when you go walking by the river, between a hiccup and a hum—I can’t abide it. One girl braided and re-braided her friend’s hair. I’m afraid of my school picture, she said, the one hanging above my Mom’s bed when I still had baby teeth. The more bad stuff I do the more beautiful I look in the picture. Someday I will become so beautiful and bad I’ll just disappear.