What We Believed
by D.E. Hardy
Art class was the best hour of the week; Miss Cunningham’s poster of the color wheel told the truth—everything had an opposite—blue to yellow, green to red; our desks were magic shields; sharpened pencils smelled like progress; Billy Sullivan was a genius because he knew things like England just got the bomb, and Brad Majors was right when he said the Russians were gonna get it—it was two against one now; owning a television meant you mattered; recess was never long enough; math was boring; Janey Vanderpelt smelled because she had cooties; lunch revealed worth, like how Micky Lane’s mom gave him store-bought pastries, the good kind from the commercials, or the opposite, how Lena Smitty always ate even the core of her apple; communism was a dirty word; the way a green crayon glided across craft paper felt clean as new money; Superman chose America for a reason; gum stayed in your stomach until you died; it was comforting how we all drew the same landscape, a good omen, the same green field, wide and unencumbered, the same tall, blue sky; God loved Americans more than other people, so maybe it wouldn’t hurt when it happened—the blast—maybe it would just be a piercing light that turned the world its opposite for a moment, a sky of gold and a red earth, maybe we could peek out from under our desks to see the brilliance, a long white horizon, outstretched like arms, beckoning us home.
D.E. Hardy’s work has appeared in X-R-A-Y Magazine, Lost Balloon, Sledgehammer Lit, and New World Writing, among others, and will be anthologized in Best Small Fictions 2022. She’s a staff reader for Chestnut Review, The Maine Review, and Quarterly West, and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her writing can be found at dehardywriter.com, and she can be followed on Twitter @dehardywriter.
Photograph of Mark Rothko’s No. 8, 1952 via WikiArt.