Friday, December 4, 2015


Barbara Chioffi

They always said I had it. What, you ask? Moxie. And I was about to prove it. Walk across this footbridge as an initiation into the Bitches? Easier said than done. The footbridge in question was missing more slats than were present—its boards were rotted and ropes frayed, and I was expected to reach the other side in one piece? Right.

Placing a foot on the first slat, I tentatively stepped forward, feeling it snap beneath my weight. The Bitches laughed gleefully while, a hundred feet below, the rocks waited patiently, seeming to look up in anticipation.

Standing there, I took stock of my predicament and what had brought me to this moment. New to the school, I had been approached by the Queen Bitch, Serena, saying they had noticed me right away and thought I would be a good candidate for their group, and, flattered, I had agreed.

The Bitches, I learned from my neighbor, were legendary . . . beautiful and popular, with football-player boyfriends, one of whom I had met on the first day. We chatted during lunch on several occasions, which had solicited the attention of Queen Serena and inspired the subsequent invitation.

Now, looking to the girls watching eagerly, I smiled to myself, once again putting a foot on the next slat. Instantly it gave way, causing me to lurch forward. Holding onto the guide rope, I faltered, looking backward to see the girls slapping hands. “That’ll teach her to think she’d ever be with us,” I heard one of them say as I lost my grip. “One less to worry about.”

Falling, I heard their cheers echoing throughout the canyon. I smiled, because the change took place in seconds. My mind flashed with memories of the first time this had happened to me, the pain and the fear. Now, with skin morphing to scales, bones extending, fingers changing to clawed talons, I reveled in the power and rose, spreading my wings, filling the canyon, delighting in their size and strength. Drawing a breath, the last thing I registered before releasing it was the three of them, frozen in fear with unbelieving eyes what was before them, a beast straight from myth and legend.

I incinerated the Bitches in a bath of flame, chuckling to myself. Moxie, indeed.