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Today's Story by J. M. Sirrico

Are you afraid you might look like one of us?


The wheel lurches left. Dave’s hands grip tighter. Everything slowsdown. The whites of his knuckles warn me we’re going to crash. I’m pushed against the side of the car. Dave turns the wheel into the
skid, my stomach reels, head snaps forward, the car smashes sidelong into a snow bank. The three of them, Jeff, John and Madea, crush the air from my lungs. I can’t breathe but am relieved to be the fat girl on the bottom of the pile.

“Fucking-A Dave,” Madea hits his headrest with the palm of her hand. “Do it again and I’m outa here.”

Dave looks at her longingly. Grabbing his shaved head in one hand and chin in the other he wrenches his head to the left then right, working for a crack on each side.

“Gross,” Madea scolds.

Dave opens the door. We slide across the seats into the snowstorm. White covers their black and army green jackets. My turquoise sweater is covered too, the only color in the crowd besides
my purple high-tops. Walking easily in combat boots John and Hawk climb the snow bank to push down on the hood, Jeff pushes from the side. Dave guns the engine, rocking the steering wheel back and forth.

The car jolts backwards, released. We pile in, same seats. Hawk next to Dave up front, the ten inch spikes of his mohawk ensure no one can safely sit close to him. In the back it’s Jeff, John, then me. Madea’s string bean figure lies across us.

Hawk turns to talk to me. “Eden rocks man. It’s smaller than the Livingroom but bigger than the Rat.”

“The Ratskeller?” I ask.

“She speaks,” Madea jeers.

“Yeah, hey you know the Rat?” Hawk asks. “I thought you’d never been to a show?”

“M-my uncle brought us there, for the ribs though, there wasn’t a show or anything.”

“Really?” Madea taunts, flipping my wet curls in her hand. “You should pierce something Lyn, or are you afraid you might look like one of us?”

She crosses her eyes and I laugh.

“Or how about a green streak, right here in the front of your head?”

Hawk continues, “Yeah, well you know the size of the place anyhow. Eden’s bigger, but not too big, and no poles in the middle of the pit. Not like Jake’s Tap where every two feet you’re slamming’

“Please get a streak Lyn, pretty please. You said green is your favorite color.”

The snow has stopped when we reach the city. Punks line the street; shaved heads and black leather jackets with flannel shirts hanging low.  Madea shoves two Slim Jims in her mouth and approaches a couple wearing matching red bandannas and making out.

“Hey man,” she slurs, “Are you hun-ga-ry?” and sticks out her tongue.

“Hey!” shouts the boy. “I know you. You were at Suicidal Tendencies.”

“Maybe I was, maybe I wasn’t.” Then grasping her stomach Madea yells, “Oh shit! My mother raised me a vegetarian. I’m gonna be sick. Bleeeecccckkkkk.”

Falling in the snow she spits out the Slim Jims then beckons, “Come on silly rabbits,” and skips ahead of us into the club.

Inside punks line the walls as if trying to protect their backs. Hawk uses the breadth of his mohawk to clear a space on the wall for us. He’s a foot taller than me and leans down so I can hear.

“Hey, to lose your cherry at a Seconds show with Regan Youth opening, wicked man, wicked.”

I blush pink then red when John leans over to translate.

“He means it’s your first show Lyn. You’re a virgin cause you’ve never slam danced before.”

“Oh,” I say.

“Fuck me man,” Hawk stands upright, “Nazis. Look Lyn, those skinheads over there, whatever you do, stay away from them in the pit. Nazis go in punching just to hurt someone. And whatever you do, don’t fall. Skins will stomp you to a pulp.”

Lights dim.

“Are You Ready?” shouts a short tattooed man in a white sleeveless t-shirt. “REA-GAN YOUTH!”

Drumsticks tap four times; the room explodes with hard rhythms and slamming bodies. I follow the outstretched hand of the lead singer. His eyes locked on mine draw me into the pit. I tuck my mother’s scarf inside the sweater. Bodies flail thrashing past and into me. I push them off, initiated into the chaos, insulated in the violence. Angling my legs for support and I close my eyes; keeping my hands up, tears roll down my cheeks. They don’t know about Nicky’s boyfriend giving me that crushed pink pill to snort or about what happened later.

In the pit, I think of the anger, feel it, and hate him.

Here I push back against the black inside me. I don’t need to pierce my ear, my cheek, my tongue. My heart is pierced, numb. The music stops; the crowd pants for breath. Tipping his head back the singer’s dreadlocks fall past his waist; he presses his lips against the microphone and screams “AANN-ARR-CHYY!!!” igniting the room back to frenzy. I fall to the side, lose my footing and am pushed back.

Bouncing off a group of three my feet cross and come out from under me. Falling back, the world slows down for the second time that day.

I’ve already decided, when I hit the floor, I’ll stay down.

Resolved, I watch the throng in front of me rise as I fall. Muffled waves of noise cover the harsh beat that grabs my heart. A boy with tattooed lips reaches in vain but only pulls the scarf from inside my sweater. I smile at him. Falling back, my purple high-tops lift from the ground.

Caught, I feel the pressure of two hands pushing to lift me up. The higher I rise, the lighter I feel. In seconds the hands loosen bricks of shame and anger from my shoulders. The bricks hit the floor, shattering to dust.

Time rushes back to normal speed, the beat of the music floods my ears. Hawk is at my side, his hands still on my shoulders.

He hollers in my ear, “Are you all right, Lyn?” He reaches for the scarf held out by the tattooed boy and hands it to me. “You’re all right, aren’t you Lyn?”

Dried tears stain my face; I turn and look at Hawk. “Yes,” I say grabbing his cheeks between my hands and kissing him quickly on the lips, “I never hit the ground.”


J. M. Sirrico earned a Masters’ Degree in Library Science. She works several part-time jobs outside of this field to support her writing habit. Cape Cod Massachusetts is the beautiful place she calls home. Contact her at jsirrico@gmail.com.

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