Next to the pothole on Edmondson Street, there is a dark spot. It could be lead or licorice. Footprints and bottle caps are trapped in the surface. Little Amelia left it there, who marched with the scouts in the Fourth of July parade, a pony of a girl, who drew off-center stars on the bottom of her shoes with the clarity of children concocting themselves.
Amelia accidentally emptied out her morning memories while exhaling into her green balloon. Into the balloon went the leftover sweetness of blood from her bitten tongue, pink candy dust and pink spit, the flat shape of a dead cat she had seen, two-day-old plaque, the reflection of her knobby knees in the mirror, the marvelous smell of burnt grilled cheese, and her uncle’s enchanting cigar smoke, a concoction that became muddled and dense like gum flavor fading.
Her mother tied off the balloon, which seemed unbalanced, and Amelia let it go almost immediately while scratching a bug bite on her calf. It floated up just past the roof of the library and popped. The dark petals of her memory peeled off the inside of the skin, making a shadowy puddle below that glowed briefly like an oil spill in the sun. Seeing this would have pleased Amelia, but she was already gone.
An elderly woman in a bright blue pantsuit bent over the stain slowly, then walked away briskly as if she had seen this before and wouldn’t have anything to do with it. It quickly hardened into a dull black fossil, kicked by boy scouts’ boots. Amelia pushed along with the parade all the way to the duck pond. Most people who see the spot will never know that it came out of a rubber balloon, and before that, a girl.
Julia Travers is a writer and artist based in Orange. Her creative writing appears in publications such as OnBeing, The Mindfulness Bell, and Heron Tree Poetry Journal. Find her work at jtravers.journoportfolio.com< and on Twitter @traversjul.
Illustration by Cait Coleman