portion of the artwork for Marvin Shackelford's story

Marvin Shackelford

“Knock knock,” she said, but then it was all what happened after. We were coming up from the field where they planted the watermelons, out behind the little lawnmower service shop, and no one paid attention. They’d let us loose from school early, Labor Day weekend, like we hadn’t just had the whole summer. We looked around the field for melons left behind and smoked and plotted to come up with some liquor. Everybody and their uncle was grilling and partying for the holiday, so they’d have beer, but it meant crossing the county line. It wasn’t far.

We came out of that field, half a mile from the school, and she was already gone. We didn’t see her leave. We crossed the highway and passed the flea market in the old elementary school, where our parents had gone. It was full of asbestos and broken pipes and plenty of nooks and spaces to get lost in, but it was closed. Weekday. We fell into our neighborhoods and secreted ourselves inside our houses. We touched each other and undressed each other and then put ourselves together again. Thought about how we’d explain ourselves but didn’t think we’d have to.

By the time they started looking for her we were far into parties or hiding from family in our bedrooms or left alone by parents headed for greater fun and wilder weekend scenes. Slowly they drew us in again to answer questions they’d only halfway put together: Where’d she go? Where had she been? What about her clothes? Who did she know, or who’d she see? What did we see? They walked us back and forth across the day, and every single time she slipped loose the same way. We twisted our fingers together and twisted in our seats. Some of us remembered the joke and her giggling. She was trying to be funny, but she wasn’t ever, really. We picked our feet high over root and vine and crossed the broad melon patch. She walked along beside us, looked up with the sun eating at our shoulders, and she said, “Knock knock,” but no one answered. We didn’t find out who was there.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 52 | Fall/Winter 2018