Fiction

February 2022

Eve is Seizing

Eloise tried to think of something comforting, but not patronizing, to write back to Eve. She struggled to form a sentence that didn’t minimize the chaos of the morning. The beaker reached a rolling boil. She gave up and sent one emoji to Eve: 👍

By Lena King

February 13, 2022

Eve is Seizing

The sun had begun its ascent, and the morning unraveled in a thin spool of light. 


Eloise spooned milk-soaked flakes of cereal into her mouth, and thumbed her way into the Instagram stream. A helmet of frizzy blonde hair shrouded her face. Across the white tiles of the kitchen floor, her sister Eve stirred a pot of oatmeal with a long wooden spoon. Eve was dressed for the day, and her dark hair fell down her back in a long braid.


“How’d you sleep?” Eve asked.


Eloise shrugged; her attention was hooked by a video where a white puppy teetered toward a grey tabby cat. The cat’s wild yellow eyes followed the puppy as it approached. Eloise imagined the cat swatting at the puppy’s wet black nose. But when the moment came, the cat just rolled over and stretched, the puppy sniffed its back, and the video ended. Eloise flipped down to a still of an alligator and tapped the screen to play the video. Nothing happened. She moved her finger to other parts of the screen, but the animal’s prehistoric jaws did not move. Eve moaned. It came from somewhere deep inside of her gut, an animalistic sound that shook even the spirits of the house to attention.


The wooden spoon fell from Eve’s hand and bounced off the cold hard floor. Eloise’s phone slipped from her fingers and ricocheted off the edge of the counter, where it briefly landed in her lap. She jumped up to get to Eve and the phone hit the floor too. Eve’s head was turned hard so that she looked over her shoulder like a wound-up pitcher. Eloise crossed the kitchen just as Eve’s body went limp, and she collapsed. Eloise stepped back and slid down the wall, lowering them both to the floor. Breath ripped out from the back of Eve’s throat in sputtering alien sounds. Eloise turned Eve onto her side, keeping her sister’s head on her lap. Eve’s jaw was clenched and saliva spurted out the corner of her mouth and soaked into Eloise’s jeans. To inhale, she sucked in air hard through her teeth. It was a violent way to breathe. Eloise reached up past the digital green numbers on the stove to extinguish the blue-orange flame. It was 7:35 AM. Eve’s head bobbed back and forth, her eyes open and unfocused. Her muscles tightened and then released, then tightened again. By 7:36 the pale skin on Eve’s face had taken on a bluish hue and her lips were purple. At 7:37 their mother, Sylvia came in and crouched down alongside her daughters. Her hair dripped from the shower and she stroked Eve’s forehead.


“We’re right here,” she whispered.


A seizure that went on longer than five minutes could cause irreversible damage to the brain and was an emergency. Less than five minutes and it was just another seizure. Sylvia and Eloise held Eve and watched the clock. Seconds after the numbers turned to 7:38, Eve moaned, and the seizure stopped. Her body relaxed; her eyes closed. Together, Eloise and Sylvia lifted Eve and staggered into the living room where they laid her body down on the diamond patterned rug. Its consistent geometry surrounded Eve. Sylvia wiped the spittle away from Eve’s cheek with her sleeve. Eloise slid a pillow beneath Eve’s head. The skin around her eyes, nose, and mouth, faded back to beiges and pink.  Eloise went to change, and her hands shook as she worked the zipper down and peeled the drool-soaked jeans away from her legs. There had been many seizures, but each one scared her as much as the last. Eloise left for school, taking the curves of the road slow, and Sylvia called into the dentist’s office where she worked to let them know she would be late.


Eve slept for an hour and Sylvia had no choice but to wait. In the quiet isolation of that liminal time, an ambiguous grief surfaced in Sylvia. She cycled through a familiar train of thought. First there was wonder, at what motherly mistake she had made to bring this difficulty into their lives, and an odd sense of comfort in brainstorming possible causes of that day’s seizure. Then the impulse to atone, for whatever sin it was. Sylvia never could quite shake the bones of her Catholic childhood. This was followed by a sadness that weighed upon her like the sight of a deer, dead alongside the highway, and she wanted to lie down alongside Eve on the chevron rug, and sleep too. Rising from this place was a small miracle each time. Like a spark, eked from steel and flint.


Sylvia and Eve were quiet on the drive to school. They let the morning news fill the psychological space of the car, each taking respite from their roles as caregiver and recipient of care. Dianne, the school administrator when she saw it was Eve standing in front of her, gave her a pass without asking any questions. Eve had had enough seizures at the school for Dianne to know her situation. Eve tried to enter her world history class like a ghost, as if she could materialize in the middle of the room and pretend that she had been there all along. The teacher knew a great deal about the Ottoman Empire, and much less about the potent force of teenage embarrassment. He stopped in the middle of his lecture as Eve handed him the late pass.


“So glad you could join us.”


She nodded and sat down at an empty desk.


“Eve, what can you tell us about the Silk Road?”


It was the previous night’s reading and Eve had done it, but her answer came out in a string of visuals; peppercorns, worms, the skull like shape of China on the map, tea leaves fermenting from green to brown. Her brain was addled after a seizure, and the heavy silence with which the room met her betrayed no sign of generosity. They did not understand her and she felt isolated, unable to explain herself to them. Her relationship to language became more complex when she started to have seizures. The rational methodology for building an argument was not accessible to her in the same way.


A few buildings over, Eloise tried to light a Bunsen burner in the chemistry lab. Her glass beaker was secure, the clear liquid inside ready to be heated. When the flame finally lit, she pulled her phone out beneath the lab bench and sent a text to Eve.


U ok after the [tornado emoji]?


Eve was sunk as deep into her chair as she could go. Eloise watched the ellipses on the phone appear and disappear as Eve started to type, and then stopped. Finally, a short message appeared.


Fine [yellow face smiling with tears coming out the corners of its eyes]


The chemistry teacher walked past Eloise and she stuffed the phone beneath her thigh. Tiny bubbles were rising to the surface of the beaker. Eloise tried to think of something comforting, but not patronizing, to write back to Eve. She struggled to form a sentence that didn’t minimize the chaos of the morning. The beaker reached a rolling boil. She gave up and sent one emoji to Eve:


[Thumbs up]


Eloise eased the flame down. The objective of the day’s chemistry lab was to demonstrate distillation: the process of separating the components of a mixture by boiling and condensing.  By the time Eloise had measured the droplets her experiment had yielded and penciled the number into her notes, the class period was over.



Sylvia and Eve sat in front of the neurologist’s light wood desk. Eloise stood behind Eve with their father Chuck. He had come in late, and there was light sweat on his forehead from the rush. The neurologist sat up straight and the air was hung with the scent of an oil he dabbed onto his neck. The family revered him for the answers he offered, and the access he granted to the drugs that might control the seizures. He held up a long thin flashlight and told Eve to follow the beam with her eyes. Then he came around the desk and had her press on the outside of his hands as hard as she could.


“Strong!” He chuckled as he typed notes into the computer. “So, how are you feeling?”


“Disappointed,” Eve said.


“That’s understandable. You’ve been trying to manage this a couple of years now. You’ve been such a trooper.”


Eloise suppressed a snort at the choice of words. Chuck shot her a look. This is not funny.


“Doctor, the last time we were here, we had talked about giving the diet a try?” Sylvia said.


Chuck stepped around Eve and put his thick bag on the neurologist’s desk. It overflowed with papers: notes from past appointments, detailed records of each of Eve’s seizures, dosages of the various drugs, pamphlets for women menstruating with epilepsy. No no one breathed as they watched him sift through them. When Chuck drew out the pamphlet about the ketogenic diet the neurologist took it and held it up, as though he himself needed it. Over the years of working with people who came to him traumatized by the unpredictability of epilepsy, he had learned to allow them illusory instances of control. He stood up, and paced behind the desk.


“The ketogenic diet can cut down on the amount of seizures a patient has, significantly. It works for about half of the people who try it! It is a big commitment, though,” he stopped and looked at them, “Best if the whole household is on board.”


“Yes, yes of course. What about the surgery you mentioned last time?”


“Chuck!” Sylvia said.


“What?”


“We said we were going to wait; try the diet, and then see.”


“I think that’s wise,” the neurologist said. He picked up a model of a brain from the bookshelf behind his desk and tossed it from one hand to the other, “One step at a time. Eve, do you have any questions for me?” he asked.


Eve’s gaze was fixed on the model brain, which the neurologist now slid apart so that one half filled each of his hands. The maze of pink folds drew Eve in. At the place where the brain had been bisected there were oblong color-coded shapes: yellow, blue, and red. With each second that passed without Eve responding to the neurologist, the family tensed more and more tightly, their bodies curled and inclined towards hers, in case she should suddenly tumble forwards into the pointed corner of the desk, or slide sideways from her chair onto the unyielding linoleum floor.


“Eve?” the neurologist said.


She looked up at his face.


“Sorry, what?”


The room exhaled and the tension dissipated. The visit wrapped up, and the neurologist held the door open for them to exit.


“Esther, good to see you again,” he said to Eloise as they filed out past him.



Ketogenic Diet cookbooks, spine to spine, covered the kitchen counter, the edge of the bathroom sink, the floor of the car. There was no longer orange juice in the refrigerator. Almond flours replaced wheat. Bacon oozed grease onto paper towels. The meals consisted of chicken legs, thick cuts of pork, and burgers that glistened with sweaty cheddar cheese. Avocado, sardines, eggs, and oil were allowed, and sugar was not. All fruit, except berries disappeared from the kitchen. Eve marked the recipes she wanted to try with neon post-its. When she ran out of post-its, she dog eared the pages. Eloise started to take walks alone to the gas station where she would eat snickers bars outside the mini mart. Sometimes the cashier took his smoke break at the same time, and together they’d watch cars zip by on the highway.



Eve was rejected from the counselor job at a summer camp because there was a swimming pool, and the camp did not want to take on the liability her seizures posed. No amount of Chuck’s loud-white-male-yelling could change the camp director’s mind, not even an offer to sign a letter saying that the family would not sue the camp in the case that Eve should drown. Eloise was hired, and the family smiled at her and told her to take the job. She watched the camp director all summer long in his bucket hat and cargo shorts. He amped up the kids, bent to eye level to comfort the homesick ones, and hosted fun and lively staff meetings. He was great at his job, Eloise adored him, and yet, there was the question ever presently humming in the background, of why it was he couldn’t have found a way to accommodate Eve. Eve spent the summer in bed, nestled safely amongst the pillows and comforters, and alone.


At the end of summer Eloise returned to the house. Her skin was red from all the sunlight. The family sat around the dinner table and Sylvia and Chuck told Eloise they were glad she was back, but when she started in on a story Sylvia interrupted her, and changed the subject. Sylvia brought up movies, in an attempt to fold Eve into the conversation. The result was a stilted meal where they all ate their bites of juicy red steak in silence. Eloise crawled into Eve’s bed the next morning and they spent the last week of summer watching movies together, the laptop heating up the sheet between them, its fan whirring in a futile attempt to cool the machine. They watched movies with actual and perceived monsters: The Mummy, Edward Scissorhands, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Donnie Darko, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Underworld


The last one they watched, on a quiet Sunday afternoon when Sylvia and Chuck had gone out, was Coraline. Eve laughed at Eloise for how scared she was of the character whose eyes were turned into buttons. Halfway through Eloise left to microwave popcorn. As she pulled at the corners of the steaming bag to dump it into a bowl, she heard erratic thumping noises. Eve was seizing in the bed. She had dug her fingers into her own face, leaving crescent shaped red marks in her soft cheeks. After five minutes the seizure hadn’t stopped and with a growing knot in her throat, and panic coursing through her veins, Eloise called 911.  When the paramedics arrived two minutes later, she opened the door and they poured into the house, bodies rippling with discipline. Eloise answered the questions rapid-fire.


No, this was not the first seizure. Yes, Eve was on medication.


The seizure didn’t stop until they administered a medicine, rectally.



The family orbited Eve like planets around the sun, drawn in close by the gravity of her vulnerability. The three of them were on duty at all times ready to drop everything should they need to. It was a rigorous existence. The house was never too loud, the volume of music and celebrations turned down low, and the kitchen always kept lifelessly neat. When Eve forgot to take her medication, as a teenager is wont to do, the fights that followed went nowhere because Eve did not have a good reason for forgetting. When she did everything right the seizures still came; in front of the portrait store at the mall, in the sunflower seed strewn baseball field, on the dancefloor at their cousin’s wedding. Over and over again her privacy was, with a dramatic flourish, wrenched away from her as she flailed in front of shocked witnesses. Sylvia, Chuck and Eloise shape shifted moment to moment from triage nurses, to public relations persons, to advocates. Sometimes they had to argue with the paramedics, to stop them from taking Eve to the hospital. A trip to the emergency room where she would have to wait hours to be discharged co-opted her whole day, and was a waste of time and money, when all she needed was a soft, out of the way place to rest.


The ketogenic diet did not slow the seizures and Eve doubled down. The morning that Eve poured the carton of black berries into the trash, Eloise lied and told Sylvia that she needed to stay late after school for tutoring. Eloise said senior year was more demanding than she’d expected. After school Eloise drove to a run-down park. In the corner furthest from the road there was an old cement pipe, big enough for a person to sit in, and she curled up inside, hiding from one confinement in another. She could sense the divergence of her and Eve’s paths, and she was afraid for her sister, and filled with guilt for her own health. A cloud shifted and the sun shone directly into the pipe, blinding Eloise for a moment. She turned away and saw a swatch of red, deeper in the pipe. She crawled on hands and knees and reached out for it. She drew the small, damp cloth body of a doll to herself. The doll had black dots for eyes, and her dress was the source of red, roughly sewn. Her hair was made of dirty brown yarn and she had no shoes.


That evening Eloise slid onto the couch next to Eve, who was staring hard at her math homework. The paper was nearly ripped through with eraser marks.


“You working on your laser vision?” Eloise asked.


“Shut up,” Eve said, without looking up.


Eloise poked her gently in the stomach.


“Look what I found?” She held up the doll.


Eve recoiled. “Where did you find that?”


“At school. Look.”


“It’s creepy.”


“Doesn’t it remind you of Coraline?”


“Who?” Eve asked blankly.


“Coraline.”


“Who?”


“The doll, from the movie, with the button eyes.”


“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”


“I’m talking about the movie that we watched at the end of summer?”


“I don’t think that was with me. You probably watched it with one of your friends.” Eve didn’t look at Eloise as she said this, her attention drawn once more to the numbers on the page in front.


Eloise slipped away, mumbling in a sort of agreement. She left the doll there on the couch and walked into their parent’s room, where Chuck was sitting reading a thick book about the Supreme Court.


“Eve doesn’t remember,” Eloise trembled. Chuck looked up at her and blinked a moment. Then he sighed and removed his glasses.


“Memory loss is a part of epilepsy.”


He said it with total equanimity. The hair he still had rested flat against his head and his belly was just round enough to show his middle age. Eloise waited for him to say more. To tell her about the latest treatment he’d read about; the next option for them to try. She waited, filling the doorway more than she ever had before, and Chuck struggled to hold her accusatory gaze. He felt helpless, futile, unable to protect his daughters from this strange and cruel aspect of life. He read the latest articles and books written by neurologists on the cutting edge of the field. He invested in Chinese medicine, reiki, homeopathy, mediation, and hypnosis for Eve. Yet here he and Eloise were, floating on separate patches of ice, the same frigid waters lapping at them from below.


Eloise had to leave the house; it could not hold her pain. She sat on the curb across the street. They lived in California, where fault lines ground up against one another and everyone learned in school to hide in doorframes or beneath desks. Eloise had never reacted quickly enough to the handful of earthquakes they’d actually had, but when Eve’s brain had its seismic events, she was there, wrapped around her sister like a waning moon. The lights in the window of the house went off, one by one. She tip-toed into the kitchen and stood like a specter, surrounded by the tiny galaxy of digital green numbers that glowed from the oven and microwave. When she opened the freezer, the whole place lit up in the bright white light, and red and brown cuts of frozen meat stared back at her. In the refrigerator Worcestershire and barbecue sauce and containers of leftover marinade lined the shelves. Eve slept, or seized in her bedroom. Chuck and Sylvia slept, or talked in their bedroom. The cold lingered on Eloise’s skin.


The next morning, Eloise told Sylvia she going vegetarian. She would not swallow another bite of meat. They all tried to reason with her, but Eloise was more rage than language. Chuck and Sylvia continued to support Eve’s diet, and Eloise cooked herself strange and unsatisfying meals. She drank murky green smoothies and ate bread and peanut butter. She stirred box macaroni and cheese on the stove while the family ate their separate food, and joined the conversation from a distance. Chuck and Sylvia were offput by the bitterness in Eloise’s voice. She didn’t know how they could ignore the terrible ways that cows lived and died, the information so suddenly obvious and available to her. When Eve asked her what was going on, Eloise said she could not eat meat from a bird that never had the chance to walk. In the end they let her be, though sometimes Chuck would express frustration at how much space Eloise’s spirulina powder was taking up when she was, after all, the only one who ate it.


Some weeks later Michelle, a friend of both sisters came over to the house. She split the difference between them, one year younger than Eloise, and one year older than Eve. Michelle strutted through the house; her hair piled in a messy bun on top of her head with a bag full of clothes to choose from for the end of the year dance. Michelle carried an air of authority and playfulness with her wherever she went, and the house was brighter with her presence.


“This would look so cute on you,” she held up a yellow skirt with a pattern of red hibiscus flowers printed across it. It was pleated, and came together at the top with an elastic band. Eve stood in front of the mirror and held it up to her waist.


“I think she meant me,” Eloise yanked it from Eve’s hands and the sheer chiffon ripped. Eve had a seizure right then and there.  Eloise went about the protocol, and for the two minutes that Eve’s seizure lasted Michelle stood, back pressed up against the mirror, her face crumpled in fear.


“Help me?” Eloise asked after it was over. Michelle picked Eve up beneath the knees, and with a heave, they hoisted her onto the bed.


“I never saw the ones she had at school. People talked about how bad they were, but dang. I had no idea.” She shook her head, trying to clear the memory. “Do you know why it happens?”


Eloise watched her own reflection in the mirror behind Michelle’s back.


“Stress can cause a seizure. Light can cause a seizure. Head injuries can cause a seizure. Sound can cause a seizure. Excitement can cause a seizure. Fast breathing can cause a seizure. Sugar can cause a seizure. Caffeine can cause a seizure.” Eloise took a breath, as though she’d been climbing a large hill. She made sure Eve’s feet were covered up by the comforter, and felt the bitterness rise in her, coating her throat. 


Michelle patted her on the back and said, “You are a good sister.”    


Eloise could not speak through the bitterness.



Eve and Eloise got ready for the dance side by side. Eve had brushed red eyeshadow across her lids, and when she looked up, her blue eyelashes caught the light. Eve lined her lips with a maroon red pencil, and filled them in with a matching lipstick. The sequins on her shirt shook and shone dark blue as she moved around the bathroom.


“Ugh. I’m breaking out,” Eve pulled at her cheek, zeroing in on a tiny pimple. “Let me use your concealer,” she held her hand out without looking away from her reflection. Eloise looked at her mostly empty tube.


“I don’t think I have enough left.”


“Look at this bruise,” Eve pointed at the underside of her chin where a purple cloud had spread, impossible to miss if she leaned her head back even the smallest amount.


Eloise looked at her own blemish free skin, and hesitated a moment longer before she handed it over. Eve spread the beige paste from the middle of her neck up to the point of her chin. She rubbed it in with a sponge, making methodical circular motions. When she was done the dark cloud was still visible, though less obvious.


Eloise lied and said she couldn’t see the bruise at all. As they emerged, Eve headed toward the kitchen and Sylvia pulled Eloise into her room.


“You keep an eye on her tonight, ok?” Sylvia said. She held out the emergency rectal medication, and Eloise stuck it in her purse alongside her clear lip gloss.


Bass pulsed out from the dark doorway of the gym as Eloise and Eve waited in line to enter. The air was already damp with sweat, and neon lights roved over pulsing bodies. The sisters had come into their young women bodies. There was a potent aimlessness to them, no longer little girls magically brought to life.  They were creatures, curiously contained and whose inner worlds were opaque to one other. A heightened sense of excitement and anticipation hovered around the line. Eve chugged an energy drink out of a can.


“Why are you drinking that?” Eloise asked. She was judging Eve, and made no attempt to hide it.


“Because I like it.” Eve winked at her.


They dropped their five dollars into the till and took a stamp on the insides of their perfumed wrists. Eloise was afraid for Eve’s wellbeing, and kept one eye trained on the sequined shirt. For a while they stayed near one another, but as more and more people filled the gym, they were swept up into throngs of different friends, and they lost sight of one another. Eloise knew she wasn’t doing her job to look out for Eve, and she felt the familiar waves of guilt wash over her. The music helped. It brought other waves through her, and the freedom of dancing in a dark, loud, hot room was intoxicating. The freedom and guilt wove in and out of one another, giving and taking from the energy that swirled up and around Eloise. Somewhere deeper in the throng Eve was thrilled to be out of the house, to be seen rather than watched, held, but not caught. She danced with abandon. Her body knew how to do that.


Every sweat-soaked high school student in that gym sang aloud to the songs that they knew. Squeals of delight rang out when a new friend who hadn’t been there before materialized. Circles broke open. Sticky fingers demolished the pretzels, cheese squares, and carrot sticks. On they danced. Eloise jumped and came down wrong, and fell to the floor. People whooped, but she jumped up and whisked herself away to the water table. Her ankle throbbed. She looked out and caught sight of Eve, who had glowstick bracelets covering her arm from wrist to elbow.  Eloise pushed through the crowd and extended a red solo cup of water to Eve, but Eve swatted it away in a flash of neon and it rained back down onto Eloise. The sisters were swept apart again, and at the end of the night when the lights came on, Eloise couldn’t find Eve. She called her a few times but the phone went straight to voicemail. Eloise didn’t think long about the decision she made to get in the car and drive home alone.  


Sylvia and Chuck were asleep, sound in their trust that Eloise had it all handled. Though Eve wasn’t there, Eloise got into bed and tried to sleep. Though she didn’t know if her sister was safe, she tried to rest. She slept an hour or two before the sun coming through the window woke her up. She was panicked, stumbling out of bed and into the kitchen where she found Eve sitting, drinking a coffee. She still wore her sequins, though a few had fallen off, and the fabric beneath was a dull black. Eve was happy, her emotion could be felt like the weather, a warm pressure in the air.


Sylvia walked up behind Eloise and entered the kitchen. “What’s going on? Why are you still dressed like that?”


Eve didn’t say anything and Sylvia turned to Eloise.


“Did you both come home last night?”


Eloise shook her head, no. Eve nodded, yes.


Chuck walked into the kitchen, yawning.


“What?” he said, reading the tension of the room. “Are you okay?” he asked Eve.

Sylvia looked between Eve and Eloise.


“I slept over at Martin’s,” Eve said.


“You didn’t ask us if you could do that,” Sylvia said.


“Sorry?” Eve walked out of the kitchen.


“Did they use protection?” Sylvia asked Eloise.


“Oh my god. I don’t know!” Eloise said, and she left the kitchen too.


Chuck poured coffee for himself and Sylvia.


“Just let it go,” he said, “she has enough of a hard time.” Cream swirled into his cup, turning the dark color to a muddy brown.



Eloise’s commencement ceremony was the next day, and the metal bleachers that ran along the school’s football field were filled with the families of the graduating class.  The field itself was a sea of black squares, aglow here and there with the caps that had been bejeweled and glitter glued. The surface that they created moved as their heads did, like the surface of a dark sea. The sun beat down on them all as each hour passed. One by one the students walked ceremoniously across the stage. When Eloise’s name was called the principal shook her hand, beaming, and she loved the way he was looked at her like she had possibility, and that there was a future for her. After a few more names had been called there was some commotion up in the bleachers that turned the heads of the graduates. The crowd had drawn out and away from something there in their midst. Eloise saw her family. They were being given a wide berth, though some people in the farther corners of the stands had gotten to their feet to try and see the spectacle that was unfolding. Sylvia held Eve, as she convulsed against the gleaming silver seats. Chuck stood, and tried to keep everyone calm.  


But the way Eve’s body shook, and the deathly pallor that came over her made it appear as though she was dying, and no one could ignore that. The seizures scared those who were closest to her, those who’d seen it happen over and over again. Someone called the ambulance, and it whipped onto the field so that the students in their caps and gowns had to break away from the group to make room for its thunderous red body. The principal called into the speaker for everyone to remain calm. He gave a quick congratulations, said that the ceremony was over, and ordered them to go celebrate. Eloise slowly made her way through the throngs of people, slow enough, so that by the time she reached her family Eve was awake and talking with one of the paramedics.


Sylvia and Chuck were fanned out encouraging the family friends that had lingered to go on ahead without them. They didn’t need anything. They’d be right behind them. They were fine. They were fine. They were fine. But when the family did start walking, it wasn’t toward the gymnasium, which had been turned over from the dance to accommodate photo booths and tables full of cupcakes. They followed the road the ambulance had come and gone by, toward the parking lot, away from the crowd of revelers. Eve walked, pressed up close against Sylvia’s side. When the four of them reached the car they all got inside and shut the doors. They were relieved by the container of the car, which for the moment at least, held them quiet and safely there behind the glass. No one got into the cars parked around them. Eve leaned across the backseat and laid her head in Eloise’s lap. Eloise ran her fingers through Eve’s dark hair, and for the moment, belonged to her sister.

Lena King is a fiction writer originally from the San Francisco Bay Area. She will graduate from The New School with a MFA in Creative Writing in May 2022. Her lines of inquiry revolve around disability in families, grief, silence and gender, place as character, and omission as craft technique.