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Playthings | Christine Byrne

This is the sequence of events:  Neighborgirl burying toydolls 

First heads, then their bodies, in a garden which dissects our houses.

And she says I’m Angela

And                     This is my brother


Daniel, I remember

I think that’s how


Digesting summer heat. Their mother Margaret, keeping things warm on the stove. 

How Angela: first eight then eleven then twelve 

Had a biting problem


and would bring me presents in the garden asking


This is the sequence of events: Angela doesn’t come home.


No, she stepped into the back of a 1997 Toyota Corolla Sudan

with blue hubcaps

No I don’t remember what the men looked like

 one of them

 was calling her Angie


& that’s what I tried to explain to the police at thirteen no

the wheels weren’t blue it was the insides of the wheels while someone said

traumatized or was it

poor baby


Sequence: Margaret became greedy, dressing me in clothes she would’ve bought for her

own daughter, how Daniel at the time was fifteen and then sixteen and I was thirteen,

always catching up


This is the sequence of events: your lily sheets are telling on you Angela

And I know he watched me get changed in your downstairs bathroom, 

so I did it all slowly, particularly, folding on the toilet lid


Sequence: The adoration connotations are as follows: Wheat Paste, Madcap, Crackerjack


Daniel and I 

observing mailtrucks. Observing babies in plastic boxes

don’t like light. 


And sequence: He leaves for Ohio, seventeen, still too skinny


Sequence: you were there that night what do you mean you can’t remember?


Sequence: Margaret bowing to     I’ve lost them both!

Margaret, who saved

        babyteeth and original haircuts in spice jars in the bathroom vanity.

You can call me mom too


Sequence: My own mother in her


Sequence: no one closed the windows and it rained all over her dresser until Margaret ran in 


       Sequence: I hope

              The green shutter shifting by your bedroom window as I drive by your childhood


Yes, I think, how I remember it—


Yellow schoolbusses. Track shoes I stole money from Lynna Bray to pay for. How she knew but never said anything, and we’d talk without looking at each other, bending in odd ways while undressing in the locker-room

Telling Christian I was still a virgin

That this is what catching up feels like

For sale signs. Margaret in her driveway. Margaret in the garden. My own 

sitting in her bed while she brushed my hair                you’re nobody’s plaything


Like my sister, sequence, Angela— 


There was a man in the back, no the windows were dark I saw him when the door

opened, maybe 30, I don’t know, kind of blonde kind of the color of my own hair, no 

she smiled shhh with her finger on her mouth No, she just walked right in.

Christine Byrne is a recent graduate of the University of Connecticut. She was born and raised in Norwalk, Connecticut and currently lives in Chicago, Illinois, where she teaches and writes.

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