I dropped my sister down a sewage grate
when I was ten—by accident, just the mis-
grip of her little hand, a gentle breaking,
like the soft tearing of a bread crust.
She slipped into the darkness
without a scream. The only sounds
were lapdogs braying, distant,
and the far rumble of a lawnmower
carrying on. Everything green, afternoon-
bright, all summer-garden-whimsy, lemonade
stands and painted mailboxes, all wrong.
We dreamed of a dog without a lead
when we walked along our road, humming
and wishing on dandelion puffs for that
kind of loyal. My cold fingers scrabbled
at the air for a leash, a rope to pull
my sister back. I searched the crabgrass
for a hidden path to follow, the footprints
of a goblin king, anything to make a deal,
to save her, my chest like the grate: an empty
black mouth without so much as an echo
or the glimmer of a crumb.
KELSEY DEAN spends most of her spare time stringing words together and training her hands to draw the pictures in her head. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in several publications, including Cicada, Glint Literary Journal, Persistent Visions, and Lilac City Fairy Tales. She is also a Pushcart Prize nominee. You can view more of her creations here: http://kelseypaints.tumblr.com.