College Square Pizza


You were mumbling
, my sister says.


We’re in a restaurant. I’m sitting
next to my brother, and he’s sitting
next to Alice. Everyone’s dressed for spring.


I lean into my seat and wait
for context. After five minutes
I get worried. Stupidly,
I sigh.

What’s wrong? Alice says.

Oh, it’s, just, sometimes I—


The bells on the door jangle.

Hey! says the guy behind
the counter, in a heavy accent.
Door stays open.

Brock smirks and props
the door, then he puts his palms
on our table.

How’s it going, KF?
He looks at me
like it’s a genuine question.
My sister stares at him
and he doesn’t acknowledge her.

Jesus, did you ever leave? my brother says.

The big freshman speaks. What about you,
big freshman? Why’re you here?

Do your college friends know, Alice says,
how many hours you drove
to harass a group of high-schoolers?

All of us turn to her
except Brock. Brock
leans over the table,
into her face and says, W—

Just go away, Brock, my sister snaps.

Hey, my brother turns
to Alice. What are you doing after prom?

I was thinking about kayaking
down the river. Is that weird?

Don’t take King Queer with y—

Not weird. I’d wear some protection,

Suddenly I’m standing
over my seat.

Get lost, Brock!

Who died and made you Mayor?

We don’t have a mayor.

Protection from what? Alice continues.

You can’t go kayaking, my sister says.
We’ve got the party.

The… party?

At Sheila Rothburn’s house.

Who the hell is Sheila Rothb…
is that that Jew that runs track?

Alice sparks. Oh, yeah!

Hey, you going to order something?

Brock looks at the counter
and back to us,
as if he just saw a penny
on the track.
He pivots again
and again,
and a deep chill
runs into my body, when I realize
I know that look.

No, forget it, he says over his shoulder. These queers
are gonna ruin your business.

He reaches for one of the two
slices on our tray, and Alice slaps
his hand. He starts.

I look up. The door glass is cracked
a little at the top.

Alice offers me the slice Brock tried to take.

No thanks. I, ah, think
I lost my appetite.

Seriously? The whole way
here you were grumbling
about how hungry you were.

I, ah… Hey,
where’s that party?

Invitation-only, sorry.

Relax. Alice touches my hand.
There’s no party.

She smiles as I turn
and I look her in the eye.
I feel cold again.

Are you okay?


Everyone faces me.

Actually, my brother says.
He looks a little pale. Come on, eat.

My sister pushes her chair back.
I’ll get him some water.

Want some cool air?
Alice says.

Yeah. I look at her.
That sounds good.

I crouch on the window.
Alice sits next to me,
anklebones peeking out
from her orange bellbottoms.

I start sighing
and suddenly
I feel like crying.

I must have sighed
for a good minute.
She looks
like she’s about to stand
back up and go back
inside, but no one’s here
but Alice, and I think
maybe Alice could listen

so I sigh
one more time
and start,

To be honest…

it’s not
that I’m not hungry.

I just have no idea
how I got here.

She smirks. Get in line,
man. Get in line.

Added: January 27, 2013 | Last changed: January 23, 2015