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Pen Your Pride



Anacreon, Fragment, 413

Once again Eros (Love) has struck me like a smith with a great hammer and dipped me in the wintry torrent.


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Boys were disappearing. Sometimes weeks passed before they turned up dazed and confused wandering in the park, down the street, on the rooftops of tall buildings. When asked about it, they had no clue how they got there, where they had been, and what happened while they were gone. Sometimes, if they thought hard enough, they'd have vague memories of a girl. But I know what happened. I know the girl.

I turn up the volume on the media screen in the taxi's back seat as a reporter sticks his mic in the face of the latest victim – an eighteen-year-old boy found sitting under the bleachers in Times Square a few hours ago. He'd been missing for two weeks.

'I . . . I don't know,' he says. 'I was biking to the store and then I woke up here.'

The reporter pats his shoulder then turns back to the camera. 'Three boys are still unaccounted for in the latest string of disappearances. Police are asking anyone with information of their whereabouts to call in to the hotline.'

A phone number appears in a thick, flashing font, followed by headshots of each of the missing boys, with their names, dates, and what they were last seen wearing. I turn off the screen and stare out the rain-streaked window, preferring a soggy New York to their faces. Besides, there's nothing I can do about it and right now I have more pressing matters to deal with, like coming up with an excuse for being late.

The taxi drives through a large puddle as it turns into the parking lot. I sink deeper into the seat, delaying the moment I'll be spotted by the tall blonde pacing the corner. I know that walk – shoulders back, arms crossed, quick determined steps.

She punches something into her phone and immediately my pocket buzzes. I pull out my cell to find our text thread filled with angry emojis. Marissa Bale, the pacing blonde, is the closest thing to a friend I have. Where I come from, we don't get to pick our friends – we're assigned accountability partners instead.

'Miss?' The driver clears his throat. 'Miss, we're here.'

I sigh, and sit up, flashing a strained smile to the man watching me curiously through his rear-view mirror. Meanwhile Marissa spots me and stomps to my door, yanking it open before I'm fully upright.

'What time do you call this?'

'It was raining,' I say, rushing to hand over the fare and leave the cab. 'Finding a ride was—' My foot shoots out as it hits the wet pavement, sending me tumbling, rear first, to the ground.

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