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the most potential anyway. He said that no one on my team could hit that kid who was pitching for the other team worth a damn. He patted me on the back, big cocky smile on his face. What my smile looks like now on his face. You’re the best, son, and your mother and I both feel that way, and we know all the other kids, deep down, will still like you. Because son, you’re the best.

To me, stifling loss tastes like chocolate fudge and whipped cream.

Mike was standing in front of me, staring at me, his face blank, drunk, gone away.

With his lips inches from my nose, his breaths coming quick but deep, burning my nostrils and eyes, I grabbed my t-shirt by the sleeves and pulled it up over my head. I let it fall to the ground between us, and I looked up into Mike’s eyes.

Nothing was raised inside him by any of this, not by his words or my half-assed replies, not my sudden half-nudity, nothing.

Sweat stood out on his brow, his sharp, wet, brown animal eyes dead to everything but my gaze, when it could meet his. It was going to build up tonight, release tonight, and then it would be ok for a little while. He wanted purity and I wanted purity, and together, we might at least achieve filtration.

I left the room shirtless, turning away from Mike, my wiry arms and flat, featureless chest reflecting colors from the flashing television. I went into my room and opened my top dresser drawer.

When I came back out of my room, I came with a 32-inch brown leather belt. I handed the tough strip of rawhide to Mike, and he took it from me, just staring at me. I swallowed as the last of the rough cowhide slipped from between my fingers and into one of Mike’s ring-studded hands.

I turned from Mike and faced the wall of my apartment, sailboats dancing on a sea of blue, red, and white stripes. Even in the dark, my walls were happy, drifting, oblivious.

I could feel Mike standing behind me, belt in hand, and I put my hands up against the wall, like I was about to be patted down by the cops. I could feel the cold of the dark room under my armpits, on my forearms, across the back of my neck. The light from the muted television cavorted across my bare flesh, making crazy caverns and shadows where in daylight there was only pale skin.

“Whip me,” I told him.


“Just hit me. Over and over and over again. Just hurt me ‘till we’re done.”

Mike Mellish is currently a student at Allegheny College in western PA. He only recently began looking into publishing his work, and has published one work of short fiction, 'Exhale,' in The Writer's Choice E-zine, and one poem entitled 'for my father' in Golem magazine. He is 20 years old and spends his down time reading, running, playing lacrosse, and lifting weights.

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