A Little Sister

When I Found Magic in a Barn

I would tongue the skins of unpopped popcorn kernels between my teeth and gums for the entire night. My skinny, tanned thighs spread over a rusted metal chair, I'd shove my hands into the red and white, waxed paper bag full of bright yellow puffs. A coke in a small, clear plastic cup was twenty-five cents and it came over that cylindrical, textured ice. I hated being there. Layers of cigarette smoke clung to the wet, hot air like a stain even the giant fans could not get out.

A man on the microphone up front spoke quickly and on purpose, his booming voice punctuated with numbers and prices slowly escalating. Everything was going once, going twice, then sold. The concrete floor was where I kept my eyes most of the time. We went every weekend. I can't understand why. It was mostly cheap, dirty stuff no one before us wanted. Old, broken clocks, handsaws, toilet seats, and dusty rugs. Only in a place like that could a fairgrounds auction be the preferred end-of-week activity.

At least there was popcorn and coke with that ice that made it taste like a slushie. And there were unicorns. Majestic, wonderous creatures who came in glass and porcelain and wood. Figurines were the only thing I ever asked for, and occasionally I got them. I acquired a small but well-selected collection. I only asked for figurines of true unicorns, not white horses with a horn.

I kept those figurines for far too long. Until I was like 16 or so. One by one their horns broke off. Sometimes a unicorn would become an innocent victim in the fights Amy and I had. Eventually I was down to three unicorns when I sacked them all, replacing them with Smashing Pumpkins and Tori Amos posters.

They say never date a girl who is into pegasuses or unicorns. No explanation needed. I think if I came across a unicorn figurine that I really like that I would buy it. Maybe it would remind me of a time when I kept an eye out for flashes of silver in the woods.


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I remember when one time I took off my headband and waived it in the air and unporposely made a bid. I was totally mortified.

I now will forever picture you as the chick from Dodgeball.

I like the word "slushie" a lot. :)


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