Something is wrong with Esmé.
Kicked out of school in New York, she’s sent to live with her grandmother in a small Appalachian town. But something is wrong with the grandmother Ez hasn’t seen for years; she leaves at midnight, carrying a big black bag. Something is wrong with her grandmother’s house, a decrepit mansion full of stray cats, stairs that lead to nowhere, beds that unmake themselves. Something is wrong in the town where a kid disappears every year, where a whistle sounds at night but no train arrives.
And something is wrong with the cute and friendly neighbor Ez’s age with black curls and ice-blue eyes: He’s dead.
excerpt from Supervision
April 9, 2015
Acid walked away the day he told me that he loved me.
He said those three little words, whispered them, and then the teacher slammed her hand on my desk, making me turn around and sit up straight and pretend to pay attention. By the time I glanced back, he had slipped out of the doorway into the hall, skipping class again.
I sat in the back at school. I felt different than everyone else. My school didn’t require a uniform, but I kind of wished it did. Acid wore expensive sneakers, but he’d had to scrimp for them, and I often saw him in the same shirt and jeans. Me, I was content to wear a sweatshirt, slipping the hood down over my face as far as I could, until I could hardly see.
The train the afternoon that Acid walked away was late, and it when it came it was packed, only one seat in the back of the car I had chosen, near the operator’s booth. It was an hour’s ride home from school, forty-five minutes if I was lucky.
That was a way I was different: I was never lucky.
The subway rumbled and swayed. The car I was in emptied as more and more people got out. Hardly anyone got in as we traveled further uptown. We were almost home when the train jerked and halted. I was pushed into the sleeping man beside me. I moved away quickly, scooting over until my shoulder pressed against the wall of the car. The man only snorted and went back to sleep.
The conductor’s voice came over the intercom, scratchy and garbled—but I knew what he was saying; I had heard it before. “This train is being held by supervision. We will be moving shortly.”
We were in between stops, and outside the window, the tunnel looked black. Inside the train, the lights flickered and went out. When they turned back on, there was something on the outside of the window.
Hand. It was a hand.
Someone was riding on the outside of the train, holding on with their hands stretched over the windows.
I stood, my bag sliding off my lap and hitting the floor. The sleeping man grumbled. The operator came out of his booth and scanned the car.
I met his glance. “There’s someone out there.”
He didn’t look. “Kid, sit down.”
“Look!” I said.
Annoyed, he flicked his eyes in the direction I pointed, barely a glance. The operator didn’t see. “Sit down,” he said. “We’ll be moving soon.” He opened the door to his little booth, and went back inside, muttering to himself, Kids!
And when I turned to look again, to double-check, the hand was gone. I saw only the empty tunnel and the swinging work light. Why was it swinging, as if someone had knocked into it?
With a jerk, the train started moving again.
Also the author of three books of poetry: WAIT (University of Wisconsin Press, 2011), OHIO VIOLENCE (University of North Texas Press, 2009), and LOT OF MY SISTER (Kent State University Press, 2001), she has worked as an actor, an artist’s model, a high school teacher, and a professor. She holds a Ph.D. in English from Ohio University, and is an avid urban explorer.