day I came home from school and found my stepmother sitting
on the kitchen floor, bleeding from the side of her mouth
and smoking a menthol cigarette.
She'd only been living with us for about six months, but I
liked the way she braided my hair and never tried to kiss
That afternoon I'd been collecting leaves for Mrs. Brown's
Science class on photosynthesis, and I set the overflowing
grocery sack down on a chair.
My stepmother reached in, took two twigs and put them on her
"That's how Bunny got her ears," she said, crushing purple
leaves into her hair.
She looked at me, and I thought for one moment that we almost
understood each other.
I took one of my braided ponytails and stuck it in my mouth.
"Go wash up for dinner," she said. "And get those leaves out
of here. Your father will be home any minute."