You’re different, Johnnie, he whispered. His breath tickled her ear and the grass pricked the backs of her arms and legs.

Nah. How so?

You know stuff.

Everybody knows stuff, Jim. Everybody under the stars.

They don’t know how much they don’t know, or how to learn.

You do.

Sometimes. He rolled away and she heard the crunch of the dry grass. It was so dry. Everything tight and brown and pulled in on itself. Especially the kernels on the corncobs, nothing left of them on the noisy stalks. Crows didn’t even want it. Not like you.

The blackened sky yawned, full of stars and indigo around the edges. You’re full of shit.

He made a sound like a humph. Yeah. The silence stretched, enveloped them. Ain’t nothin’ left here, Johnnie. Nothin’ to stay for.

What about me? But she didn’t say that out loud. So you’re goin’ then?

Ain’t got no choice. Daddy’s sellin’ out. Might get enough to cover last year’s equipment and seed. But ain’t no money for school. I can go up to Durant and work for my brother.

Your brother’s an asshole.

I know.

He tried to rape me once.

He sat up, and it was just a sound like everything else out here. He did not! It was disbelieving but begging more.

I swear. I bruised his nuts good.

He let out a laugh that bounced off the emptiness.

It wasn’t funny!

No. Sorry. But he was still smiling. You’re different, Johnnie, that’s for sure. And I’m comin’ back to get you.

You swear?

I swear on my eternal soul.


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