The Masters Review Blog

Sep 4

New Voices: “Flat Earth” by Erin Sherry

In today’s New Voices, we’re excited to share “Flat Earth” by Erin Sherry! In this story, two girls, Joey and Haley, become obsessed with an internet forum, where they learn the truth about the world: it’s flat. This discovery leads them to a kind of teenage nihilism and self-destruction, a mask for something else, much deeper than Haley’s willing to admit. Join them on their journey to the edge below.

Not everyone believes us yet, people like Joey and me who have figured it out. Our mothers still want us to learn Latin roots and trigonometry, spend the summers saving for good colleges by selling ice cream, tabloid subscriptions, door-to-door knife sets sharp enough to cut through bone. They want us to take regular baths and be sweet to our baby brothers, help out with the dishes and hum along like little idiots to the theme music of the TV shows we loved before we learned we’d been lied to. But we can’t. We used to dream of growing up, becoming beautiful, restoring the world our parents ruined. We have these useless young bodies and all sorts of great ideas, but our days are numbered and there isn’t enough time left to inherit all we’ve been promised.

Joey would jump off a bridge if I asked her to. I know because I did once. I just asked her.

We were chasing swigs of her mother’s vodka with the baby’s apple juice and beginning to sway. My belly was warm and I kept lifting up my shirt to rub it in slow, sleepy circles. I wanted to roll myself up like a dog beside the basement radiator and dream about chasing rabbits through tall grass, crunching their necks between my pointy canines. I wanted to dance. But then I got mean and started in on Joey, instead.

“Mix your juice with buttermilk,” I dared her.

She downed a whole cup. She barely winced.

“Tell me your deepest, darkest secret.”

She played dumb.

“You already know it,” she said. “I peed the bed at McKenzie’s party. It was me all along.”

“Not that one,” I said. “The real one.”

We had discovered, not long ago, that the world was flat. With this knowledge came the understanding that there was really no point to anything, not anything. Really no point at all. This freed us up for all sorts of things, like shoving off sleep until we could no longer stand and skipping school and being terrible and doing whatever we wanted. There were no rules anymore. There was no reason.

I told Joey to swallow a spoonful of vinegar, a wedge of raw onion, hold three ice cubes in her mouth until her teeth went numb. She did it all. She loved it. She cracked an egg over the top of her head and let me smear the yolk down the yellow length of her hair, laughing the whole time. She crept upstairs and returned with the expensive tube of lipstick her mother only wore once a year on Easter, wound the stick all the way up, and bit it clean off. She held the cakey cylinder very still on her tongue.

“Swallow it,” I said. “Come on, do it.”

She shook her head.

“You won’t.”

Her eyebrows scrunched together and her cheeks went fiery. I watched her throat bob.

“There,” she gasped when it was all the way down. She wiped her teeth with the palm of her hand and shook her head back and forth. “No more,” she said. “No more.”

Her mother and the baby were sound asleep and they didn’t hear a thing, not how we laughed, our stumbling missions back and forth from the fridge, not the vodka bottle slipping out of my hands and not breaking but sending booms, still, through the basement, not even the snow white Saturn inching down the driveway when suddenly we wanted milkshakes from the drive-thru. We were fourteen. Joey drove. We were both pretty rosy by then, but she was the better driver, always had been. She steered straight and steady.

To continue reading “Flat Earth” click here.

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