by Ethan Swage
Sister likes girls, Paulie wrote in the book his counselor calls a diary; but guys don’t keep diaries, girls keep diaries, and if girls like girls, sister likes girls, then who the hell is Paulie supposed to like? He wrote down what he had heard while stalking the hallway outside his sister’s bedroom door: giggling, whispering, truth-or-dare (mostly dare), but not the kind he had ever played before; sketched what he had seen after his sister’s friend darted from bedroom to bathroom and back without her pajama bottoms and neglected to pull the bedroom door all the way closed: girls on girls, girls on sister, sister on girls; then he slammed the book on the floor, jumped on it, jumped on it some more, and then handed it to his counselor. “See you next week,” she said, and smiled and sat back in her chair and gazed at the door as if she wished Paulie were on the other side of it. As he pulled the door behind him, he saw her lean, lift the cover of Paulie’s book with a pinkie, and then quick-peek the way he used to quick-peek at his father’s Playboy, only with raised eyebrows and puckered lips and a blush darkening her face like she had just stepped from sunlight into a deep, dark cave. “Sister likes girls,” he muttered, tight-jawed, after shutting the door, “and counselor likes girls, so...” Paulie punched the first boy who smiled at him, and nobody believed him when he blamed his sister.
Ethan Swage is a New Jersey–based writer, artist, and photographer whose work has appeared in Flashshot, Weirdyear, Eclectic Flash, Blink/Ink, Staccato Fiction, The Legendary, The Linnet’s Wings, Liquid Imagination, DiddleDog, Flashes In The Dark, Everyday Weirdness, and 50 to 1.