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Susan Gene McCartney


Sara stares in grandma’s bathroom mirror. Her skin is the color of wet chalk. Her wet-chalk forehead is six feet wide.

“Look at that nose! It takes up half my face!” She smiles just to watch her big, fat lips widen out flat. “Clown lips!” No wonder I never smile.”


  “Sara, you there?” Roy calls.

Sara places one foot on the edge of Grandma’s bathtub, catches hold of the window sill, pulls herself up and peers out the high bathroom window. “Yeah,” she says.


  Roy stands in the rhubarb patch. A sunbeam has found his thick copper hair. He is as skinny and pale as Sara, though not as tall.


  “You comin’ down?” He squints.

“Yeah,” she says.

“Meetcha in back then.”

Sara hops off the tub and crosses through the kitchen. Roy is settled on the back porch steps, crouching over the narrow sidewalk and watching the ants. Sara squats beside him.


  “You wanna play gangster?” Sara asks.

“Okay,” Roy says.


  They get up and follow the narrow sidewalk past the clothesline and Grandpa’s vegetable garden. Opening the garage side door, they slide on in.

Sara smells dusty oil. The floor is red gravel. Sawdust logs are stacked to the ceiling against the back wall. Late afternoon sun bounces through dirty panes of its one tiny window onto the hood of Grandpa’s gray Ford.


  “There it is,” Roy claps his hands, “the get-away-car!”

Roy opens the driver’s side door and climbs in. Sara gets in the passenger side. She feels the soft, fuzzy car seats. The dash with its knobs and dials gleams dull silver.

Sara rolls down her window and dangles one long, white arm over its edge. “I’m Molly the Gun Moll, now,” Sara says. “I’ll soon be part of a great bank robbery.” “Vroom! Vroom! Vroom!” Roy turns the steering wheel this way and that. “Are you ready for the big job, Dolly?” His voice is raspy.

“My name is Molly. Don’t call me Dolly, or I won’t play.”

“Vroom! Vroom! Vroom! We’re almost there. You remember the drill?” Roy snarls. He is Kelley now, Machine Gun Kelley, famous bank robber.

“Of course,” Molly drawls.


She looks over at her partner-in-crime. He has the longest eyelashes Sara has ever seen, what she wouldn’t give for those eyelashes.


  “Screech!” Machine Gun Kelley shouts, “We’re here,” he eases his door open. His step crunches on the gravel.


  He disappears behind the car.


  Molly’s heart races. This is it. Molly the Gun Moll will save the day once more with her excellent driving skills. She scoots behind the wheel, gripping it tight.

“Vroom, vroom,” she whispers, giving the wheel a yank. Her hands begin to sweat.


  “Arrgh” she hears from behind the car. Machine Gun Kelley stumbles into view on the passenger side, pulls open the door and throws himself on the seat.

“They got me, Dolly!” He is gasping for breath.

Molly!” She corrects him.

“Get us out of here!” Kelley yelps.

“Vroom! Vroom! Vroom!” Molly jerks the wheel right and left. “Vroom! Vroom! Vroom! Screeeeech! Whew, we made it.”


  Molly dries her hands on her dress. “You hurt bad, Kelley?”

“Naw! Just a scratch,” Kelley groans and sits up.

“That was a close call,” says Molly.

“It sure was, Dolly,” Kelley rasps.

“Don’t call me Dolly,”

“Dolly Dolly Dolly…,” Roy edges across the seat toward her.

“Roy, I told you I wouldn’t play if you —.”

Before Sara knows what is happening, Roy’s boy lips are pressed against her girl lips. They sit, lips locked, eyes open wide. They pull apart and barrel out of the car on opposite sides. Slam! Slam! Out of the garage. Slam!

Outside, they stop short. Sara examines her big toe. Roy stares at his left thumb.

“I gotta go.” Roy makes a dash for the front sidewalk.

“Me, too.” Sara stomps up the back porch steps and opens the screen door.

“Hey, Sara!” Roy calls from the front sidewalk.

“Yeah,” Sara says through the screen.

“See ya tomorrow?” Roy calls.

Something chimes inside Sara, a tiny golden bell maybe.

“Okay?” Roy’s voice cracks.

The golden bell chimes louder. Sara’s insides tingle. The tingle moves up her spine to her just-kissed-by-a-boy lips. Her lips quiver, open into a little smirk, then a small grin and then into a big, wide smile.


  She softly closes the kitchen door.


Susan Gene McCartney, was born in Whitefish, Montana. She has lived many places, and now Albuquerque. Study at the University of Montana spring-boarded her passion for travel. On a 3-month trip through Europe, she slept on trains and under bridges. More travel followed, and at 64, she spent two years in Africa by herself, visiting14 countries via local transportation. In New York, Susan studied acting and playwriting at the prestigious Ensemble Studio Theatre. As a playwright, her only play, The Freak Show, was produced by Alice’s Fourth Floor. Susan is TEFL Certified and taught English in Thailand and Tanzania. In Belize, she founded Placencia Children’s Theatre Company (PCTC) with 20 Belizean children.

“The Smile” is her first submission, and she is thrilled that it has been accepted for online publication. She hopes to write more fiction based on life experience.


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