Kara Vernor

When you walk into a party with blood on your face, well, people will think it’s your blood. Funny how that works. Like clothes and perfume. If you’re wearing it, it must yours. My friends were looking at me like, Oh my god, What happened to you? Like maybe my boyfriend punched me with that skull ring of his. He was known for that ring, and his ability to pin guys in unitards in less than 20 seconds.

People were assuming. What they didn’t know was, my shirt (satin with daisies), it was my friend Jenny’s; the blood (sticky and bright), my boyfriend Rick’s. So I told them. I held up my hand and said, “It’s not my blood,” but everyone kept staring, holding their red cups somewhere between their waists and their mouths. “It’s not my blood,” I said again, but of course they were still wondering. I was no help; I wasn’t ready to confess.

I went to the bathroom and washed my face. The blood streamed to the sides, and I had to shove a hand towel deep into my ear holes to get it out. It’s funny how last night I was sipping Raspberry Zinger and studying the quadratic equation, where tonight I am covered in blood. My mom says not to run off with the first guy I meet because he could have chlamydia, or an addiction to internet porn, or impotence. Guys can bypass dating with mail-order brides from Russia, she says. There are no mail order husbands.

Rick had told me I looked “a little slutty” when we walked up to the party. I said, “Give me a break, it’s not even my shirt.” I tried to hold his hand but he pulled away. I said, “Isn’t it perfect how Rick rhymes with Dick.” That’s when he shoved me to the grass.

The good news is, I am likely a secret ninja, because when Rick the Dick lunged at me for more, I kicked fast, like a rabbit on its back, which is kind of crazy because kick first, ask questions later is not what they teach in school. Lessons aside though, you don’t know what you can do on adrenaline. You could maybe lift a car.

My heel snapped his nose and it sounded like a plum splattering. He came down on me still but was disabled. I’m sure he thought he was teaching me a lesson, pinning me down, hanging his busted plum nose over my face, letting it drip, drip, drip. I agree, it was unpleasant: rolling down my neck and pooling in my eyes. I shut them tighter. I thought his, not mine, which is how I prefer it. Not my blood.

People are knocking at the door now, saying, “Hey, are you okay in there?” “Yes,” I say, “I’ll be out in a minute.” They’re saying, “Hey, where’s Rick?” I look myself over once more. Jenny’s shirt is ruined, but otherwise I look good—hair fluffed, lips pink and glossy. I look ready to open the door to a house full of guys I haven’t yet dated. I’m thinking I could maybe date a gold medal mathlete. I could make out with a Russian spy.

 
 
 


Kara Vernor lives in Napa. Her stories have appeared in Necessary Fiction, Wigleaf, Hobart online, and elsewhere. She was a recent recipient of the Estelle Frank Fellowship for Short Fiction and has a story forthcoming in The Los Angeles Review.