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Velma Goes Away to a Small College Where No One Knows Her Name

by Emily Capettini

She wears her other turtlenecks. Takes off her glasses herself, arms folded in. Enrolls in a self-defense class, learns to fall. Cuts her hair short, pierces her nose. Wears contacts. Peels away her old disguise.

Worries over if she said the right thing to the woman in her history class, not the police. Thinks about what would happen if her scrapbook were full of newspaper clippings about raising money for the local library, organizing Shakespeare in the Park; not another haunted mill discovered to be a long con in the name of insurance money.

Wishes she had snuck out to meet people in the back of cars headed somewhere unhaunted, unmarked. Reminds herself to think only clothes, not disguise, not mask.

Excuses herself when people begin a story with you know what I heard. Lets her roommate play music as loudly as she wants so Velma can forget what her heartbeat sounds like in atticked silence, forget how long she can hold her breath.