by Catrina Joos
Benita hid in the tall grass. Twenty feet away, an Eastern cottontail feasted on tender shoots. The shadow of a turkey-vulture skimmed across the clearing.
Benita was good at hiding. At lunch, she hid in the bathroom. During recess, she hid, scrunched knees-to-chin, in the damp dirt beneath the jungle-gym. After school, she hid in the woods until the big kids were gone. She hid her scrapes and bruises from her father, along with the notes her teacher sent home.
Benita aimed her Ruger bolt-action rifle and pretended the bunny was one of her father's empties. Her index finger touched the trigger; the rabbit hopped, the illusion evaporated.
Benita tried again. Rabbit stew. Like her mother used to make, only it wasn't. No one knew the secret ingredient now.
A blanket for Sophia; but it was summer and dolls didn't really get cold.
Closing her eyes, Benita thought about Lilly-Rose, with her long hair pulled back with butterfly barrettes. Lilly-Rose, whose nails were "Chick-Flick Cherry" red, not black with dirt. Lilly-Rose, whose mother left her love notes in her lunch-bag and would never send her to school with a jar of peanut-butter, a loaf of bread and no knife. Lilly-Rose, who told secrets on the jungle-gym that were not hers to tell. Lilly-Rose, who watched Sid, a fifth-grader, hold Benita face-down in swamp water just to prove that the feeling was not mutual.
Lilly-Rose with a red rose blooming from her gaping chest.
The Ruger fired.