Her Big Chance by Lisa Thornton

Mia looked at Sandy’s face in the mirror on the bedroom wall. Sandy held the curling iron for a twenty count on her bangs. Mia could see her friend’s lips silently counting seventeen eighteen nineteen twenty. One second longer and the hairs would stick to the cylinder like that girl’s down the street, leaving a bald spot that took six months to grow back in.

Mia lay on Sandy’s pink bedspread, hands clasped behind her head. Sandy’s dad’s record spun on the turntable on the desk. The song was from the sixties and it made Mia feel like she had stepped back in time. This was the part she liked best, when Tommy James and his back-up Shondells started repeating ‘crimson and clover’ over and over like there was a scratch in the vinyl but there wasn’t. Mia had never met Sandy’s dad but apparently when he left, he didn’t bother taking his records with him.

Two boys from school had called just now and asked Sandy what she was doing. On the new phone Sandy’s mom had agreed to let her keep in her room. They wanted to know what Sandy was up to. Sandy’s face had changed when she answered the phone. Her freckled hands shook a little. She giggled in a way Mia had never heard her do before, in all their six years of friendship. They want us to meet them, Sandy whispered to Mia after hanging up.

How’d they get Sandy’s number, Mia wondered. She watched her best friend pop open a circle of finishing powder and dab it all over her face.

The two of them never needed anybody else before. They had climbed all the trees down by the creek. Built that fort behind the empty house. But lately Sandy talked for hours on her new phone. Not to Mia. To boys. Boys didn’t call Mia. Mia didn’t know how to do what she figured two boys on a golf course would want her to do. Did Sandy know? Mia thought probably. Sandy knew how to attach a basket to the handlebars with a shoestring and how to catch a lizard without pulling off its tail.

Neither of them knew, of course, that the boys who called were vomiting into the seventh hole on the green nearest the water trap at that moment. That by the time a bicycle reached the golf course from Mia and Sandy’s neighborhood, both boys would be slurring their words and stumbling. That three months later when Sandy peed two red lines onto a white stick from the corner store those two boys would stop calling Sandy’s phone, the one her mother had agreed to let her keep in her room. That those two boys would stop answering their own phones when Sandy called their numbers. That neither of those two boys would be able to remember Sandy’s name anymore.

Let’s go up to the store instead, Mia said. Get a coke. She watched her friend’s face in the mirror, those brown eyes squinting in concentration to create the perfect curl. Sandy’s hair was reddish blonde naturally and stick straight. It stuck out like chopsticks in every direction when she pulled it up. Now, Mia thought, she looked like an old-fashioned movie star.

Sandy set down the curling iron on its little stand, careful not to touch the hot metal to the top of her dresser. This is our big chance, Sandy said, her eyes flashing. If you aren’t up for it, I’m going by myself.

Mia’s hands sweated behind her head. The record spun. She thought of the skateboard ramp she’d been building in her driveway with wood she’d found down by the creek. The sketch of her old soccer shoes she’d just started. Her mother wouldn’t be home from work yet. She’d be alone.

The needle scratched in its groove. Crimson and clover, the Shondells chanted. Over and over. 

Biography: Lisa Thornton is a writer and nurse living in Illinois. She has work in SmokeLong Quarterly, Bending Genres, Roi Faineant, Cowboy Jamboree and more. She was a finalist for the 2022 SmokeLong Quarterly Award for Flash Fiction and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She can be found on Twitter @thorntonforreal.

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