Generalized Barotrauma on a Fifteenth Birthday

At five o’clock on her fifteenth birthday Sara’s on the couch with her cat, feeling loneliness lap like pool water from her chin to her lower lip, when her ex best friend texts to ask if she wants to see a movie. For a second the universe shrugs into a counterfactual, and it isn’t true that Judy hasn’t wanted to hang out since sixth grade, when it became apparent to both of them that Sara’s adolescence would be clumsy and sexless and that Judy—petite and alpha and with a younger sister’s foreknowledge of how to go about being a hot girl—could do better. (She did do better, Sara can tell from Facebook and Instagram, where Judy sits slouched on the floor in a tight black miniskirt, holding a Solo cup, smiling her vodka tonic and popularity.) The relief of this counterfactual is sharp, staccato.

People on couch
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