about the author

Ethel Rohan has work forthcoming from The Northville Review, Keyhole #9, and Necessary Fiction (So New).

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The Places We Go

Ethel Rohan

Trisha and I camp in my front garden, and imagine more exotic surroundings. We sit cross-legged with a wool blanket over our heads and flashlight under our chins. Trisha sets the scene: we’re on a hill in a vast green field, amidst cows and foxes and...ghosts! She turns off her flashlight, her face a black mask.

“Give over.” I turn my light on her.

She laughs and reaches for her backpack. We share a red apple that’s more crunch than juice. Again, she pushes her head through the tent and scans the street. Eric Tenney lives one block over and, a basketball jock, is the most popular boy in school. He’s also the best-looking. She claims they kissed, with tongues, but I don’t believe her. She lies as easy as doodling.

Next Tricia takes us to Antarctica. We camp on a glacier together, only the glacier is melting and we’re surrounded by ravenous walruses and polar bears. Outside, a car exhaust blows, startling me.

“Gunfire!” Trisha laughs, shows the black fillings in her molars.

Her hand shoots out and presses against my nightshirt. She tells me my heart feels like it’s tunneling out of my chest. Her hand drops away, but its warm print remains.

We travel to the rainforest, imagine its heat and rain, the lush green plants and gigantic colorful butterflies. Trisha’s head disappears out of the tent again.

She falls back inside, and mentions Eric Tenney for the umpteenth time. She continues: “He showed me his.”

I scoff, and shake my head.

“I touched it.”

She also claims he rubbed her breasts, making her nipples tingle like crazy. I shine my flashlight on her stripped wool sweater, and grab at her right breast. She cries out, and slaps my hand away. I had hoped to find stuffing.

We lie on our backs in the dark. The beams from our flashlights spar on the tent’s ceiling. She swears on her mother’s life she’s not lying about Eric Tenney. I want to kick her out of my tent, but that would get our parents involved. She feels sure Eric would kiss me too for, say, ten dollars.

“How much did he charge you, twenty?”

She props herself up on her elbow. Her breath smells of peanut butter. “I could have charged him.”

I turn my head away.

She says Eric’s lips are cool and soft, like butter, but that he can kiss hard too, rough enough to make her lips bleed. He makes her feel warm inside, she goes on, like she’s floating.

I grip my flashlight with both hands, and contemplate hitting her on the head. Instead, I take the lead for a change and bring us on an African Safari, saying whatever it takes to paint scenes bigger, better, and stranger than she could ever fathom.

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