I had to come down off the crest of the hill. It was getting dark and the hounds would soon be released. The speckled purple shadows behind me lengthened.

A dog howls, it’s not dark yet. I lengthen my stride.

I could hear my brother now, he would be talking about tanks and how their treads tear up the European mud in the Fall. The boy is obsessed with mud. I’ve known him to strip totally naked and go lie down in a mud puddle for hours.

More grainy pictures flood my mind.

I remember there was a gun, small caliber. We didn’t dare talk about it. My sister captured every five minutes of my panic. I was wearing dark blue pajamas and hopping around on one foot.

If you get caught…

All eyes on me, the faces peer from the shadows, leaning in to get a closer look, I notice faces from my past. Uncle Pete, who raced swan boats on the Boston Common. My cousin Sibyl, who, wanting to know what it was like to a kiss a boy, kissed me instead, pretending she was teaching me how to kiss a girl. My aunt Faith used to masturbate to Christian Rock. All you could hear from her room was Jesus, oh God, Jesus.

She sat with someone else on the carousel that night. I wanted to ask her about her red painted fingernails and the French beans she was so fond of eating when it rained, but the brass sprinklers caused a distraction, getting everybody wet. Your loss, I said. My gain, you pervert, she said back. I didn’t know what to do with that.

I stood up and went to the window. I’m only trying to help, I said.

Why don’t we have our last meal together? Forget all this talk about families and travels and girlfriends and pointed daggers. Your physical body soothes me. Eyes like Orange Crush, with hair too match.

A vague mist floats in. heads nod.

Every girl I’ve ever met became my tormentor. Over the years, I learned to bare their torment stoically, which led to orgasmic dreams, a small price to pay for middle-class privilege.

I should take another happy pill and forget about her.