In the backseat the sister, who will one day become a sodden wife occupying the largest house in a college town, hits her younger brother. He reacts without thinking and punches her back: one solid thump on her gingham thigh. Indignation, stronger because it is unjustified, singes the sister’s pale complexion. Although she is in her first year of high school she whines to her mother who is anxiously watching the road. “Brake, brake!” the mother tells the father, a careful driver who has done nothing to provoke such anxiety. (The father presses the gas.) Pretending not to notice his parents, the brother stares at a passing brick building and silently vows never to marry. From the fourteenth floor, the roof of their car is the size of a fingertip, their intertwined antagonism a line of dirt beneath the nail. The woman observing the car steps back from the window and presses her own fingernails against her eyelids. Now she is a pink-eyed monster sprung full-grown from an acid trip. “We,” she says into the phone, her voice pausing to emphasize this small word, “dropped bombs and afterward the pilots left their remote control station and returned home in time for dinner.” She is talking about drones. She and her boyfriend split up half a year ago and yet she is still parroting him to her best girlfriend. Aware of doing so, the woman wonders about the nature of power. Immediately, though, her mind skips to a moment from her past: she stands at the edge of the ocean and watches her father swim beyond white caps and seeing the strength and determination of each of his strokes, she follows him into the breaking waves.
Susan Scutti recently published short stories in Cura (Fordham’s Litmag) and Turk’s Head Review, and her novel, “The Deceptive Smiles of Bredmeyer Deed” was published by a small Canadian Press. Her poems have appeared in Philadelphia Poets, New York Quarterly, and Tamarind, among many other journals.