The Final Girl Looks for a Summer Job
She scans the classifieds in The Merchandiser, knowing that her options are limited. She can’t be a day camp counselor or a babysitter or a nanny. Kids are too loud, too quick. They’re always getting hurt, getting lost. There would be too much running, too much screaming. Too many bodily fluids.
She thinks she’d like to do something physical. She wants to be so tired by the end of the day that she has no choice but to fall asleep fast and hard. She wants something that will make her sweaty. Something that will make her strong.
Maybe scooping ice cream at the shop by the park. She imagines her forearm ropey with muscles. She imagines her cheeks pink from the freezers, hair smelling of fresh sugar cones.
Maybe a landscaping crew. Maybe mowing lawns. She worries about the whir and buzz of the machines, about what she won’t be able to hear as she pushes her way across the grass.
The elementary school needs a janitor. She imagines herself in the dim quiet of those linoleum halls. Bleach and wax and Lemon Pledge. Books on tape from the library. Alone in that warren of classrooms.
Before, she was a lifeguard at the public pool. She loved how the sun beat down on her shoulders, her scalp. Loved her shiny silver whistle and forest green one-piece. She loved the dive from her chair at the end of her shift. The way her body cut the water like a blade. The suspended coolness after hours in the heat.
Now, no one would trust her to guard a life. Her existence simple proof that although she can survive, she cannot save.
The Final Girl Rehearses the Part of the Nurse for Her School’s Production of Romeo and Juliet
The drama teacher would have cast her as Juliet, if not for what happened. She is the strongest actress of the bunch. Understands the rhythm of the language in a way the other kids don’t. Understands that big emotions— love, fear, despair—don’t always look big.
He worried, though, what the town would think seeing her play dead like that. So, she would be the Nurse. The caretaker. The nurturer. The only character in whole play who cares about the doomed girl’s happiness.
He watches as the girls rehearse again the scene where the Nurse finds Juliet in her chamber, presumes that she is dead. He watches the final girl cradle the other actress’s body. Hears the break in her voice as she laments, “Help, help! My lady’s dead.”
He wonders if he has made a mistake.
Meghan Phillips wrote the flash fiction chapbook Abstinence Only. She wrote some other things too, which you can find at meghan-phillips.com.