art by M.S. Corley
by Dustin Adams
Every year, a few more kids from my elementary school vanish from people's memories. Today, we've arranged our desks in a circle and Mrs. Witherspoon is explaining that Tracy Peters has gone to a better place.
Tracy was struck by a car while riding her bike. She will be remembered until our next dose of Pathway. Then, only I'll remember her.
Pathway doesn't work on me. Well, the anti-aging portion does: I'm still nine, but I never forget. I'm the fifty-five pound elephant in the room.
I puff a stray lock of curly hair off my eyes and Mrs. Witherspoon scowls at me. The curls are from my mother's side. My father insisted my hair be kept short. Said I looked like a girl when it got too long.
I miss my parents.
Next to me, Tracy's best friend, Charlie, whimpers. Charlie's a girl. Short for Charlene.
I pat Charlie on the shoulder. "I miss Tracy, too." She nods agreeably and I'm struck by a profound sadness. After our next dose of Pathway, Charlie won't remember Tracy. She'll revert to her carefree self, but I'll always remember the short-haired brunette who loved ponies and dresses and--