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Marla

Marla’s got the evening on a choke chain and autumn’s arm behind its back. The leaves are strangling on their branches, bruising brown and yellow. The sun’s flush with wallowed rage.

Campus: Latin for field, more specifically of battle. What did Caesar have that college doesn’t? Columns, lust and gluttony, blood on the grass and a knife in his back.

She’s knocking on the door now, tape tight around her knuckles. The Romans liked bloodsport, too. She’s ancient and aquiline, eyes blank as marble; she’s waiting for the Emperor’s thumb to turn. Marla’s no sadist. Pain isn’t pleasure: pain is pain.

Marla

Marla’s been on the porch drinking since the sun touched the library roof, and her eyes now are puffy and mean. Too hot for February. There’s a cold front coming in.

She decides to walk through campus with her car keys in her hand. It’s after eleven, and inside gangly kids are frantically trying to fuck away the leap year. She reads windows in passing, a construction paper alphabet: Mu Alpha Lambda, Alpha Kappa Alpha. She wonders what that would spell.

There’s a rock in her other hand. She’s not sure how.

Around her stalks March, lioness in a lean season.

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