by Ginger Mullen
Promise to repeat
Four neighbourhood girls with poker faces,
smoking cigarette butts, each hoping
that Neely's mom will return before her next turn,
before the stakes get too high.
Shirley makes a random call.
"Hello, is your refrigerator running?
Well, you'd better go catch it!"
a pillow, leaving bright pink doughnuts
on good cotton linen.
"My mom is going to freak!"
Linda runs through hallways
saturated with smells of tenants' dinners.
"Help! I'm having a baby!"
They usually ask questions
about boys or bras.
Neely takes a chance: "Nikki,
what's it like,
with your mom dead?"
With a ghost of a whisper, she says,
"She'd be furious
if she saw me smoking."
Four girls stare at the ashtray.
Three girls get up to go home.
Two girls have voiced the unspoken.
Truth is left alone.
Illustration by Kathryn Shoemaker
Read by Ginger Mullen
UBC's Journal of Children's Literature
Mail: Chameleon C/O UBC Creative Writing
Buchanan Room E462, 1866 Main Mall Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z1
Email: Helen Kuk --