Theo put his palms on her breasts as though he were swearing over a Bible. They did this at that spot by the riverbank, and often she would find dandelion fluff on her t-shirt like lint. Afterwards, he checked her for ticks. His younger sister had gotten sick the year before, her brain swelling up with Lyme disease, and since then he had become obsessive. He filled a jam jar with rubbing alcohol – its label ripped half-off and sticky – and kept it in the knot of a nearby tree. Together they sat up in the foxtails and she held the jar in her lap as he combed through her hair. Theo worked in his father’s carpentry shop and his fingertips were coarse as he scratched her scalp. Row by row, he searched for them. She stayed still, clutching the jar, the grasses brushing over her kneecaps as he traced her hairline with the tenderness of a finger drawn over a spinning globe, landing on its next resting place.
Checking for Ticks
Photograph by Stacy Guinn