The Last Thing She Wore

Kathryn Kulpa

If you thought the clothes you put on in the morning would be the last ones you’d ever wear, you’d choose them more carefully. I would have.

Last seen in a purple t-shirt, jeans, and black Chuck Taylors. May or may not have been wearing a rainbow loom friendship bracelet.

Not, for the record. I took it off weeks ago. And the shirt was more violet than purple. Violet like twilight, which it was, and the end of April, but already summer-warm, and I was zinging, vibrating, every raw nerve brimming with want: to go somewhere, to do something, and my cousin’s confirmation party was not that thing, and Hannah had said we could meet at the skate park later and I was asking my mother, one more time, when we could leave and she said Get lost!

So I did. Slammed my glass of off-brand orange soda on the table and walked out the back door, past the adults talking their boring talk, past the little kids and their dumb party games. I walked to the end of my cousin’s street and kept walking, wondering when they’d miss me, when my mother would be sorry she’d pushed me away. Get lost! I walked until I no longer knew the names of streets, cut through backyards like a spy, seeing the blue lights of TVs through picture windows, hearing lawn sprinklers, thinking how people were carrying on with their ordinary lives, barely awake, barely alive, and this was not the life I wanted. I wanted to ride dragons; I wanted to find lost cities; I wanted to climb a mountain peak in the sharp, red outback, under a sky of a billion stars. I wanted something more, something I couldn’t name.

I pulled a pink flower from a hedge with thick, waxy leaves and breathed in its strange, spicy smell. I tucked the flower behind my ear like a dark-haired girl in a painting I’d seen in a book in the school library. The girl was topless, or would have been, but someone had inked in a bikini top and written Woo! Woo!, and I swayed down the road like I was that girl, crowds of people saying Woo! Woo! in my head; I wanted to be a bad girl, a wild girl; no one had any idea of who I was or what I could become—so of course I got into that car. Got in with my own two feet. The path forked and I took the path that was all wrong, the path the lost girls take, but what other path could I have taken? In that warm violet twilight, with new grass bending under my feet, the music from that car pulsing past me, slowing down, that man leaning out and saying how hot I was, and I was on fire, I was so alive in that moment, every cell in my body tingling, waiting for something, finally, to happen: so alive, so alive.


Kathryn Kulpa is a New England-based fiction writer whose work has appeared in Smokelong Quarterly, KYSO Flash, and Digging Through the Fat. She was a winner of the Vella Chapbook Contest for her flash fiction collection, Girls on Film, forthcoming from Paper Nautilus, and is the author of a short story collection, Pleasant Drugs. She will write for coffee. Follow her on Twitter at @kathrynkulpa.

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