Elspeth Jensen


Marcy wears glitter eyeshadow. Marcy’s hair is always clean. Marcy loves her pet Angora rabbit. And her mother. And me.

Marcy and I are getting ready to leave the mall. Marcy and I just finished eating pretzels and licking salt and yellow mustard from our fingertips. Before that, we tried on homecoming dresses. Before that, we tried on lacy pushup bras. Before that and before that, I had no friends in this new town. But then Marcy, the beautiful girl in the beautiful house across the street, knocked on my door and asked if I wanted to walk with her to school.

And then we walked together. And the next day we walked together.

And then Marcy. Marcy. Marcy.

Marcy and I are walking toward a stretch of glass exit doors by the food court. Marcy’s mother is in the parking lot, her car engine humming in wait for us.

A bee is dancing against one of the glass doors. I wonder if Marcy will notice the bee when she walks by it. I wonder if Marcy will squeal. Or jump. Or run.

Marcy could be friends with anyone. Marcy is friends with everyone in our suburb and everyone at our school. And somehow, this includes me.  

Marcy is my best friend. I am not Marcy’s best friend.

Sometimes I think I am Marcy’s pet, like her Angora rabbit, who Marcy brushes every day and carefully trims the hair around her eyes and feeds her slivers of banana.

Other times I think I might be Marcy’s project or a line on her CV, like when she gave me a box of neatly folded clothes that she didn’t wear anymore.

None of this bothers me, though. Though it bothers me that no matter how many times I wear her old tops, how many times I send them spinning through silver suds in the washing machine, they still smell like Marcy.

Marcy is kneeling in front of the door by the food court in the mall, inspecting the bee buzzing against the glass. I look around. People are looking at us. People are looking sideways at the girl kneeling on the sticky linoleum, staring at the bee twitching frantically against the glass.

People are always looking at Marcy.

I expect her to give the mallgoers a bright and violent show, to slip off her flip-flop and smack the bee against the glass in a black and yellow firework.

But Marcy pushes the door open. A breeze rushes in. “Go,” she tells the bee. But the bee stays thwacking against the glass.

“Your mom is waiting for us,” I say to Marcy.

Marcy’s face is pinched. “Go!” she tells the bee again, gesturing toward the mall parking lot, to the open air. “Fly away,” she says. “Go.”

Marcy is angry. Nobody is listening to her instructions, but everyone by the food court is watching her. I am watching her. I have watched her. Marcy is always giving instructions. I am always following her instructions, but people are looking at us right now. They are suspicious of us, and so I say, “Marcy, come on. Let’s go.”

Marcy never cries.

Marcy is crying—dry, throaty whimpers.

Marcy is flapping her hands frantically at the bee. “Go outside,” she commands. “It’s right there,” she says.

She is very, very angry. I can see the anger. It has unfolded itself and escaped her in a wide sheet that has swathed the space around her—the food court, me, the doors, the glass, and the bee who isn’t listening to her.

Marcy’s voice is loud and shrill. “Go,” she says.

I am glad she has never been angry at me, at least not audibly, at least not where I could see.

I watch her now, and say nothing.

And Marcy says, “Go. Go. Go.”


Elspeth Jensen earned her BA in Creative Writing from Western Washington University, and is currently pursuing an MFA at George Mason University. She is the Fiction Editor for Sweet Tree Review and the incoming Assistant Poetry Editor for So to Speak. Her writing can be found or is forthcoming in journals such as the Bellevue Literary Review, Rust + Moth, Gone Lawn, After the Pause, Midway Journal, Ghost Parachute, and elsewhere.