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Brenda Brooks

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A Novel
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I never went back to the house on Montague Street again. I didn’t even return to town. The day of my release I thought about dropping by Robinson’s on 3rd to pick up something new to wear, give myself the illusion of a fresh start, that sort of thing, but there were bound to be a few locals around who remembered what happened so I kept driving.


All I took with me was a suitcase and that thrift store hour glass Honey gave me on Christmas Eve the night they ran off: brass, with genuine hand-blown bulbs. She said it was precise, never got clogged, the sand always ran true. It turned out to be symbolic as hell but that’s the nature of an hour glass after all: it whispers the bottom line without saying a word.


No, I never returned to Buckthorn at all. It would have been like cruising through an abandoned movie set, tumbleweeds blowing down the boulevard, the last fake storefront nailed shut — which is what that Godforsaken place was bound for anyway. That’s why you’ve never heard of my hometown. It doesn’t exist anymore, at least not in the way I remember. Maybe it never did. Look at me, will you: twenty-five and already living in the past.


Honey was from Buckthorn too, although she bullshitted from childhood on about various far-flung locales being her true birthplace. I went along for the fun of it. And after all, our town being what it was? Who could blame her for getting stoned now and then and dreaming? Elba, some island in Italy, was her favorite fantasy. She had a thing about it for years. According to her she’d been born there in another life. “The life that counts,” she said. I sometimes thought she would have chosen any exotic locale as long as it had a beach, a big red sunset, and rose-colored sand. Sand that color is pretty unlikely, I told her, even in Elba, but that didn’t bother her. She liked pretty unlikely things, her dreams (and old scrapbooks) full of beaches and ruins and old trees with truffles tangled in their roots — things like that. In a way I guess you could say that this whole mess came down to Honey trying to find her true-blue homeland, and me doing my best not to lose her again.


I’m not much for talking, now more than ever, although I’m sure that’s hard to believe. I mean, look at me rattling on. If you asked me where I’m from, what it was like there — and what I mean by “what happened,” I’d tell you about Honey. Because she’s where I’m from, and the only place I’ve ever really been.


She’s what happened.


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