Isolated Power


I sit on the cool steel bleachers next to my mother, who’s holding up a digital camera to her rectangular glasses. I run my coral-and-teal fingernails across the metal ridges on the seat. My brother is up to bat, but I’m not watching him. I’m gazing across the dusty baseball diamond, past the plastic astroturf fields they say give you cancer if you spend too long on them, at the tie-dye skyline. I’m listening to the hum of the Virginia cicadas, the song they sing on June evenings. The game has been going on for hours at this point, and the sky is beginning to bleed purple into its cotton candy pink. 

I slide off the slide-proof bleachers and turn around towards the man-made lake, which has turned into a mirror of the sky. 

“Where are you going?” My mom looks down at me from the lens of the camera. 

“Just down to the lake,” I say. 

“Don’t go into the tall grass. You’ll get ticks.” And just like that, her focus is back on the game. I take the first steps on my journey down the hill.

Evelyn isn’t here today. Usually, I hang out with Evelyn because her brother Josh is also on the team. Josh is one of Jake’s best friends. Evelyn is not my best friend; not even close. Once, she threw a temper tantrum while I was over at her house because her mom wouldn’t let us watch TV. 

Evelyn isn’t here today, which means I have free reign of the park. If she were here, I would have to hang out with her because it’s the polite thing to do, even though my mom says I don’t have to. She would want to talk to me about the boys at school who she thinks have crushes on her. But she’s not here, so I wander down towards the lake by myself, careful to avoid the cattails and the tall grass because I don’t want to get ticks. 

I park myself between two protruding roots of a willow tree and stare out at the lake. My legs are folded criss-cross applesauce. I pick an ant off of my blue plaid knee-length shorts and rest my elbows on my knees. I listen to the cicadas hum their early-summer song. I think about how there are only 11 days left of the school year, how excited I am to take my swimming test at the pool so I can jump off the diving board, how I really hope the counselors at camp don’t make us play Dr. Dodgeball every day like they did last year. 

I lean my head back against the tree and look up at the darkening sky. I think about whatever I want. I don’t miss Evelyn. I don’t miss anyone. Eventually, I’m roused from my fantastical daydreams by my mother’s voice. 

“Zoe Eden!” Oh no. I just got middle-named. I leap to my feet and peek around the side of the tree.

“Right here!” I call. 

“There you are,” she sighs. “Let’s go! Dad’s home and he wants us to bring dinner!” She wraps her arm around my shoulder as I approach.

“Mom, Josh just got the Lego Death Star set! Can I please sleep over tonight so we can build it?” my brother pleads. 

I don’t listen for my mother’s response, but I’m sure she’ll drop him off later. I begin to plan out what I’ll do once Jake is out of the house when I can spend the rest of the evening in blissful solitude.

Zoe Glasser is a junior Magazine major and U.S. History minor. When she’s not writing and editing for Jerk Magazine and 20 Watts Magazine, she’s spamming her Instagram story with song recommendations.