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Forward, Backward by Jamie Moore

I met him at a skating rink. I was fourteen and tougher than any of those boys who tried to grab my waist with their short-fingered, sweaty hands when a slow song came on. I came to look fly in my Guess jeans. I came to skate backwards fast enough so that the air rushed past me and it felt like I could reverse time.

He was not tall, which I liked. Back then I thought tall people were self-righteous since they could always see over my head. I couldn’t guess his age. I mean yeah, he had two whisker-like wrinkles that trailed each eye, but even I had a few grey hairs. I watched him fix his black curls with a flat blush, unlike the greasy boys in high school who grew their hair long so they could flip it around like the bad asses they saw on TV. I didn’t know he dyed his hair then. Or how quick he moved forward, despite how fast he showed me to skate backwards.

He slid over to the table I sat and said, “I’m new here.” His arm reached towards mine: a progressive build until his fingertips brushed my forearm, spreading fire. He bought me a slurpee, cherry flavor. “You’re very pretty. Tell me about you.” The DJ announced couples skate as a slow song hummed through the rink. The black light came on and my pale skin glowed under his touch. My body was sinking, my feet melting into the black and white carpet beneath my quad skates. My red-stained tongue let everything slip.

I told how Pops said we were getting evicted. How I couldn’t go back to eating mom’s rotten food and sleeping with roaches scuttling by my toes because she thought serving her men was more important than seeing to us. That I could not let any state-appointed-tall-ass-woman-in-a-suit place me with some greedy family who housed my body for a monthly check.

“I’ve been on my own for a while.”

“And now?” he asked, pushing his yellowed, square frames back up to the indent at the bridge of nose where they fit.

When I had everything to think about, I thought only about the moment. He said I could come with him. I didn’t know it meant anything more. Where else was there to go?

Jamie Moore received her MFA from Antioch University, Los Angeles. Her novella, Our Small Faces, is forthcoming from ELJ Publications. Her work has also appeared in Blackberry: A Magazine, Emerge Literary Journal, and Moonshot Magazine.