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The boy from across the street is slamming your head into the pavement, red bicycle abandoned on the sidewalk. You taste copper in your mouth, like suckling on nickels. There is something on the tip of his tongue; it is eating him alive. It is eating you. He hits you and you shield your head; it is the only thing your hands know to do.

Dust coats your tongue; tumbleweeds skitter through your heart. The horse galloping in your veins has no name. You spit blood on the chalky white driveway, tears streaming blue. You’ve never been ashamed of crying in front of him, not when it’s just the two of you. 

In the suburbs of Nevada, you cannot see the stars at night. You are far from the lights of the city, but they seep into the cuts in your skin, curl up in your chest and press on your ribs. Showgirls are plastered on your bedroom walls; John Wayne watches you from the living room. You are a bandit and he, this boy, is your executioner. You are both guilty of the same crime. Why is the rope around your neck? 

This is tired, worn out like a broken clock. You squirm and he does not relent. This day has lasted forever, this moment both a memory and a prediction. This is nothing new. Last week he smiled at you—or maybe bared his teeth, yellowed from chewing tobacco—before hitting you in the jaw. Nothing new. There is never anything new.

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