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We feed the ghoul behind the elementary school crumbs of bread and throw sticks at it to make it dance. We watch its grotesque movements, our heads ducked down, squinting in fear, until our mothers call us for dinner, garbled words painting a language that skips down the street and rings in our ears. We cringe as foreign words sneak in, marring the pictures we have painted for ourselves on the walls of the elementary school, our language in big block letters, our parents’ language woven in the cracks of the pavement. Our mothers tell us to eat until there is nothing on our plates and we sneak what’s left into our pockets. 

Our mothers ask us where we’ve been over dinner and we mumble names, our mothers shake their heads and tell us, don’t spend time with them. We know the rest of us are being told this as well. We know each of our mothers think all of the other mothers are crazy and we know that our mothers know we have discovered the ghoul and we gather crumbs of bread, of shaking hands, of voices whispered in the night, of letters that roll wrong on our parents’ tongues and we slip all of it into our pockets. We feed the ghoul and we eat what is left so that one day we will be big enough and strong enough to watch it dance without turning away. 

Noa Covo is a teenaged writer. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Okay Donkey, Jellyfish Review, and Waxwing. Her micro chapbook, Bouquet of Fears, was published by Nightingale and Sparrow Press this July. She can be found on Twitter @covo_noa.

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