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by Kate Jones

Tonight, this room will be her marital bedroom.

She peels the edges of posters from the whitewashed wall, images of adolescence, now redundant. One tears at the edge and her breath catches in her throat, before she satisfyingly tears the picture in half, tossing it into the waste paper bin beneath her desk.

She pulls a photograph from the pinboard: she and three friends, smiling, holding mocktails at the senior prom. She rubs her thumb across each of the faces of her friends. Clarice, with the place to study law at Oxford; Lydia, off to art college; Francesca already off on her year out in Europe.

Then there is herself. What did she have to smile so inanely at? She wonders now.

Perhaps the offer to study medicine in Edinburgh, so far from her small town. Another planet away.

Perhaps the looks the boy from her chemistry class was giving her that night.

Perhaps the vodka somebody had sneaked into the ball and put into their mocktails.

That night had held a lot of firsts. First ball. First taste of vodka. First clumsy sex in the back bedroom of somebody’s after party.

She takes a pair of scissors and cuts neatly around herself. Then she makes tiny incisions in the piece of herself she holds, until there is nothing left, just photographic snow on the carpet. She places the other three friends inside the pages of the Advanced Chemistry textbook on her desk. She figures it will not now be opened for some time.

Turning to the side to look at herself in the full length mirror, pulling her shirt tightly across her stomach, she wonders how long it will be until people can tell. Whether they will wonder at how a clever girl like her, studying the sciences, could get the fundamentals of biology so wrong.

Kate Jones is a freelance writer based in the UK, with writing appearing in various genres and places including The Sunlight Press, Feminartsy and The Real Story. She is also Review Editor for The Nottingham Review.