Don’t stay up too late. Don’t go anywhere. Don’t put on that dress. Don’t use extra eyeliner. Don’t pull on the boots that zip up the sides. Don’t slip out the side door. Don’t meet him down the street. Don’t get in the car. Don’t give him that look.
Don’t let him drive too fast. Don’t light a cigarette. Don’t put the boots on the dashboard and blow smoke out the open window. Don’t stop past the cornfields. Don’t let him push up the dress. Don’t hold his arms and cry out.
Don’t sit up. Don’t let the night end.
Leah Browning is the author of three nonfiction books for teens and preteens. Her third chapbook, In the Chair Museum, was published by Dancing Girl Press in 2013, and her fourth is forthcoming. Browning’s fiction and poetry have recently appeared in Fiction Southeast, Toad, Bluestem Magazine, Cape Fear Review, 300 Days of Sun, Storyscape Literary Journal, Glassworks Magazine, Mud Season Review, Dressing Room Poetry Journal, The Blue Hour Magazine, and with audio and video recordings in The Poetry Storehouse. In addition to writing, Browning serves as editor of the Apple Valley Review.