On the day before the day we broke my nemesis Maribel Yates’s legs, I found my aunt Eleanor propped up against the stove when I got home from school, barely wearing the silk kimono she’d picked up in Hong Kong, and sucking on a Benson & Hedges DeLuxe Ultra-Light Menthol 100. They were my mother’s cigarette of choice as well, the two of them having learned brand loyalty off the same nicked packs as cigarette girls living off Flatbush Avenue. She raised her dragon-wing eyebrows at me where I stood panting against the door. I had just victoriously outrun my nemesis the long block from the bus stop.

“Who’d you kill?” My aunt squinted and tap-tapped her cigarette ash into the sink. The kitchen smelled like Pond’s cold cream and burnt toast.

People on couch
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