No One is Coming to Save Me//Meghan Phillips


My nanny isn’t really dead, they tell me. She’s in a long black limo that’s been looping my high school football field this whole time. They tell me to go wait in the diner until she comes for me. I sit on the side of the booth that faces the door, so I can see her as soon as she walks in.

 

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I’m too sick to go to school, so I have to ride with my dad to his sales calls. He spreads a blanket over the backseat and tucks me in with my bear and a pillow from the couch. He sings along with the radio. I watch the sky.

 

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My mom has been eaten by a giant ostrich. It is always dark when this happens, so dark that I can’t see the floor or the walls. I know they are there. We must be standing on something.

 

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There’s a nook under the stairs painted to look like the Milky Way. Deep black with swirls of white and gray and pink. There are pillows shaped like stars and moons, yellow felt and stiff canvas. There’s music too. The song of the spheres. I want to feel at peace, adrift in space, but I am terrified. I can’t tell how long I’ve been in here.

 

//

 

We are here at our own risk. The lifeguards are gone and so are the families with their umbrellas and sandwiches. We brought beers in a little lunch bag, towels and sweatshirts. He hasn’t seen the ocean since he was twelve. He holds me in the water like he never does on land.

 

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My mom has been eaten by a giant ostrich. Sometimes it’s an actual ostrich, like the ones I’ve seen at the Cape May Zoo, only larger. Sometimes it’s more like a Muppet, all bright colors and plush fur. Googly eyes and a neck like a giant Slinky. The Muppet scares me more than the real bird. I never want to touch the real one.

 

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I think the words to the song are: My body lies over the ocean, my body lies over the sea. I lay in the hall with my toes gripping the baseboard singing: bring back, bring back, oh! bring back my body to me, to me.

 

//

 

It’s my turn to jump from the crotch of the crabapple tree in my uncle’s front yard. That morning my cousin made his First Holy Communion. We are full of white icing and thick sugar crosses. I try to jump. I fall instead.

 

//

 

My mom has been eaten by a giant ostrich. I know everything will be okay because Batman will save her. Sometimes Batman is just Batman, a man in a cape and a cowl. Sometimes it’s Michael Keaton. When it’s Val Kilmer is when I worry the most. He can’t hope to save anyone. Those lips are only good for kissing.

 

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I think it is called a “drench coach” because you wear it so you won’t get drenched in the rain. I think games can go into “Southern death overtime.” The pressure so intense that it creates its own heat. Players swoon in the damp sultriness of competition. Kudzu vines drag them from the goal line. How is anyone supposed to play in these conditions?

 

//

 

My mom has been eaten by a giant ostrich. I see the shape of her body as it’s squeezed down the monster’s throat. I know everything will be okay because Batman will save her, like he’s saved her from the others that ate her before. Batman comes like always, but before he can slice open the massive bird, it eats him too.

 

//

 

The death records in the archives sometimes list how members of the congregation died. Fever. Drowning. Crushed by a horse. Hung by a rope. This is the one that gets me: a list of names, one date, a note. “The old and the young buried together.”

 

//

 

I am climbing and then I’m falling. It’s as simple as that.

Meghan Phillips is the fiction editor for Third Point Press and an associate editor for SmokeLong Quarterly. You can find her in real life in libraries around Lancaster, PA, and on Twitter @mcarphil.