all breathing heartbreak | Christine Butterworth-McDermott
A graduate of Purdue University, Christine Butterworth-McDermott’s poetry, fiction, and nonfiction has appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, The Massachusetts Review, The Normal School, River Styx, and Southeast Review, among others. Besides All Breathing Heartbreak, she is the author of Evelyn As, Tales on Tales: Sestinas and Woods & Water, Wolves & Women. She is the founder and co-editor of Gingerbread House Literary Magazine. She lives and works in Nacogdoches, Texas. You can read more about her here: https://christinebutterworthmcdermott1906.com
I ran from them when they called me from the car, rolling down the windows, saying, “Hey, little girl, need a ride?” It was like a song, meant to enchant me, lure me near, and they even had candy (how classic), these two men who were thin and hungry, who smiled bright, but whose eyes were mean. I was eight, walking home alone from school, on my usual path. I was not wearing red, but yes, I had been told to stay on the path and I had been told to listen to my elders and I had been told to come when called, to speak when spoken to—but something else that was stronger told me to whip around and run through the wide field that sprawled its way to our apartment complex. I sprinted across its expanse in the hot sun, not caring how the grasshoppers flew up to bat my legs, not caring that the shattered glass of beer bottles would skewer my legs if I fell, not caring for rattlesnakes, and the venom of their fangs, but only hearing the venom in the voice of the driver of the car, the hoarse dry laughs of his friend coming from the open window, the heavy beat of the music that followed me like a heartbeat until I burst into the kitchen where you sat. And I tried to tell you, but you said, not now, not now, not now, until it became an anthem in my head, until it became the song I lived by. That silence cloaked me; I never would tell you what I met on my way home.