Ashton Russell


Julia Bethan

Baby Hearts

Ashton Russell

She tells me, it’s a physical thing, when someone breaks your childish baby heart. She says, you know what I mean? I don’t. But I see the tears that don’t fall behind her big baby blues. I feel the air leave the car as we ride along highway 31, as she tells me about the man who rubbed her chest when she didn’t want him to, how he said it was okay because he would make them grow, how her mama looked the other way smoking cigarettes and working her day job at the elementary school helping the kids no one else could. How she didn’t go to the funeral—not for him and not for her mama. And how she wishes she could say sorry, but she doesn’t know to who or for what anymore. We pass the sign to call Alexander Shunnarah if you’ve been in an accident. They are all over downtown. Save money, call Alexander. Sue that asshole, call Alexander. She drives fast and we fly over a bump in the road, her car hitting down hard on the asphalt. She says, you know they left me in the bathroom once. I didn’t know. She says, they went out to eat, it was a beach vacation and they just left me locked in the bathroom of the condo. Who does that? And I tell her I don’t know.

Ashton Russell work has appeared in the Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, X-R-A-Y Lit Mag, Bending Genres, storySouth, and Southeast Review, among others. She lives in Birmingham, Alabama.