Last Party by Lindsay Coleman
It’s my birthday. The other kids and I make wishes on our balloons and let them go. Before that, one of the planned activities is donkey rides, but I don’t go because it’s my donkey and I can ride her whenever I want so it’s nothing special. Another activity is magic tricks. When the magician shakes the box and opens the sliding doors from the left and the right, I know where the ball is. I raise my hand and shout “In the middle! Where the doors overlap! It’s in the middle!” but the magician glowers at me until I sit down. The other activity is bobbing for apples. When it’s my turn, I dunk my head in the basin and pin the apple to the bottom with my teeth. I can already hear the conspiracy theories from the other kids swarming above me. I’m not out of breath yet so I stay down. I’m eight years old, I think, and open my eyes in the icy water. There are shadows and murmurs down there. I don’t know what they are exactly but that’s okay. It’s very calm—so calm, my chest relaxes and my heart slows down. I feel like the longer I don’t breathe, the less I have to.What if I fit my whole body inside the basin. By the time I finally rear out of the water, some other girl has won the contest. Then we all gather in the yard with our balloons and say goodbye. I am still dizzy from bobbing for apples, so I lie in the grass and wait for it to end. One by one, they are letting them go. One by one, they are drifting out of sight. The sky is darker, but it’s not late.
Lindsey Coleman’s work has been published in Fairytale Review, H-NGM-N, Shampoo, Forklift:Ohio, Quarter after Eight, and Bateau, among others. She graduated from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop in 2007 and received her BA from Harvard in 2004.
“Last Party” originally appeared in the second print issue of apt, available to purchase here.