with the wrong man to the wrong place;
with the right man in the wrong car;
with the wrong man in the right car, the windows down and that song on the radio that sounds like freedom, the fingers of her right hand tipping out into the wind;
across the street without looking;
into the mouths of our mothers and their don’t go there alones, the ever-lengthening hems of our dresses;
out too late at night under flickering streetlights, her keys in her hand the way she’s been shown;
to that part of town good girls shouldn’t go;
to the bar alone, heavy cocktail glass in her hand, fallen laughter on her lips, smiling at the right men, the wrong men, drinking until the stool teeters;
out in heels too high, stumbling on sidewalk dips;
too close to the road, too far from the shoulder, into the glare of flaring headlights;
out of this story and into all of our stories, not our brothers’ and fathers’ stories: girls’ stories, warnings and whispers, scoldings and bewares, and there she stays and there she shines, like a flaming, fallen star.
Hear Cathy Ulrich read her piece
Cathy Ulrich sometimes goes places, but not very often. Her work has been published in various journals, including Blue Stem, Gastropoda, and Gone Lawn.