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Diaspora (Excerpt 1)
Years ago, when we got bored during study hall and Googled "Thayer Stokes", we found out that his dad was a rich-ass tech entrepreneur with his own Wikipedia page. We all found that to be varying degrees of completely hilarious, since Thayer made the local news in ninth grade for getting high as a kite and crashing Daddy’s BMW into a stoplight. When, one night, he slipped Xanax into a girl’s cheap beer, the rumors ricocheted into our collective consciousness and lodged somewhere between our knife-thin ribs. Our entire grade held our breaths, waiting for the cops to show up with handcuffs so shiny and stiff they’d hurt our teeth. 
So when Thayer disappeared for days, we thought he’d for sure gotten his ass hauled to the Rosendale Youth Center, a pretty name for juvie. All of us except one agreed. Sammy Holwell swore that he one-hundred-percent-for-sure saw Thayer turn into a bird, but we just laughed at him and figured he must’ve been tripping too hard.
A few weeks after Thayer’s disappearance, Charlotte Beryl’s cluster of church choir friends came in all frantic with dangling tongues and mascara oozing down their cheeks. Their voices dovetailed into one story: they’d been eating lunch on the front lawn when Charlotte’s face twisted in a way faces shouldn’t. She fell to the ground as her hair sizzled into wreaths of rose-gold smoke. Brown mottled feathers julienned her skin into shreds. The one stupid thing they couldn’t agree upon was the species. One girl thought sparrow. Another insisted finch. Maybe wren, someone else said.
Afterwards, I couldn’t get this grotesque image of Charlotte out of my head. I kept thinking of feathers unfurling from her eye sockets. Her painted lips puckering and pulling into a beak. A mesh of honey-blonde corkscrew curls, ripping out by the roots. An eternal scream of horror caught in her throat, languageless.
Rona Wang
Published in Issue 38