When I think I am far enough away I find a rock and sit. The hill is across from another hill which is across from a mountain. Let me tell you, there are mountains everywhere here. Let me tell you something else, there are just as many churches as there are mountains. From where I sit on my rock, catching my breath, I can hear the sound of the pack coming from the west. West is where the tallest peak overlooks the city. Aside from hills and mountains I can also see my house, far away, a tiny dot among rows of multi-colored rows. I know my father is at work. His bright orange Scout is missing from the driveway. I can hear the sound of voices bouncing off the hills. It’s hard to tell which direction. Maybe they are heading back towards my school.
I want to be safe in my room. I’m fourteen—a kid for fuck’s sake. Touching myself is not allowed. So I touch others. I think my mother always knew. While I knelt she prayed fervently over me and my father laid his hands on my head. I could feel them shaking. They repeated prayers over and over, their breath smelling of church mints. Over the sound of their voices I could hear the neighbor’s daughter playing her trumpet. She was first chair. She made apple pie from scratch. She smelled like wilted roses. The stained glass window in the hallway leading to her bedroom colored me in all the hues of late fall. The aspen leaves were changing from gold to red to rust. The kind of colors that signaled the leaves would soon begin to crisp and drop. I have never been more aware of the call of the final trumpet. How loud a crack can sound in a small room filled only with the light of late afternoon and a girl removing her peach-colored dress. Of the sound of voices coming up over the hillside as I sit on my rock singing O death, where is your victory, O death, where is your sting?
Hillary Leftwich earned her MFA in fiction and poetry from the Mile High MFA at Regis University in Denver. She is co-host for At the Inkwell Denver, a monthly reading series. Her first book, Ghosts Are Just Strangers Who Know How to Knock, is forthcoming from Civil Coping Mechanisms in spring of 2019. Find her online at hillaryleftwich.com.