MUDDY PROMISE • by Rasmenia Massoud

Anna let herself go limp as Katy lifted her into the back of the shopping cart they had just stolen from the grocery store parking lot down the block.

“At least all of the weight loss makes it easier to lift you and stuff you into things,” Katy said.

“Hilarious,” Anna said, looking around to make sure that no one else was about. The field was nothing but lumps of dirt and darkness. She adjusted the scarf she wore to cover the baldness. Katy let her hairless scalp show. “Okay. It’s clear. Go as fast as you can. Don’t be scared to let me crash.”

“Okay,” Katy said, holding up her little finger. “Deal.” They locked pinkie fingers the way they had always done since they were kids. The same way that they did the day Katy shaved her own head after Anna’s hair started falling out.

Katy pushed the cart as hard as she could, running straight toward a large mud puddle. Anna’s swollen feet hung over the edge of the cart, her giggling mixed with wheezing. Katy laughed and pushed and ran like she did the last time they did this, twenty years ago, the summer before they started high school.

The cart reached the puddle and Katy let go. Anna squealed as the cart tipped over, dumping her in the mud. Laughing, wheezing and muddy, her scarf hung halfway off of her head. Katy leaned down to retrieve the cart, only to tumble into the puddle.

“You jerk,” she said. “Now look what you made me do! This is the last time I sneak you out of the hospital.”

“Probably,” Anna said.


“Everything hurts, Katy.”

“Because I just launched you into a puddle.”

“That’s not what I meant.”

“I know. I just keep hoping,” Katy said.

“Yeah, but I don’t want hoping to be the last thing I ever do,” Anna said. “I don’t want it to be the last thing that you do for me, either.”

Anna held up her pinkie finger. “Deal?”

Katy locked fingers with her friend. “Yeah. Deal.”

“So?” Katy asked.

“So what?”

Katy grinned and looked over at the toppled and muddy shopping cart. “You wanna go again?”

Anna let out a raspy laugh. “Get me out of this damn puddle.”

Rasmenia Massoud is from Colorado but lives in France where she spends time confusing the natives by speaking French poorly and writing about what she struggles most to understand: human beings. She is the author of the short story collection Human Detritus and her writing has appeared in various places, including Girls With Insurance, The Molotov Cocktail and Metazen.

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