Butterfly Knife
by Julie D Gates

Ocean City Elementary was built next to a chemical plant.
In second grade, our teacher had us plant tiny trees all along the fence
Separating the school from the toxins.
“In 20 years, you can come back and see your tree all grown up”, Mrs. Monte said.
Ten years later, I still ran on the elementary school track,
Late in the afternoons, when the sky got drowsy,
With a lazy muted yellow.
He stood at the starting block
Flicking something around in his hand
That caught the last ray of sun and blinded me for half a second.
I made the 3rd round toward the second mile
And smiled like a young girl.
Jeff. I think. Track star on our high school team.
O wow.
And he’s watching me run?
A flash. Him moving light greased lightning.
He sweeps me off my feet and drags me to the back of the school building.
“I want to show you something.”
I never knew what one of those things looked like before.
I flew away.
They tore the school down
and leveled the contaminated ground.

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