Alina Stefanescu


The car hit me. I don't know if it was yellow or forest green but the sky was night's ordinary massing, its smatter of stars stolen from open myth mouths. I crossed the street beneath the red light. I wanted to drink a peach Snapple iced tea as my friend hooked up with her boyfriend who worked at the gas station on one side of the street. There are two sides to every street and I was fifteen. It was the moment between my first kiss and my first highschool party. My friend's boyfriend's name was Mickey. She wasn't allowed to date yet. The boy was a stop along the way my friend needed to be left alone with. Him. In the car. For a minute.

The car hit me on the return crossing. The sky was black as a crow's wing. The glass from the Snapple broke in my hand. The glass crawled inside my palm and made itself smaller. The final shard emerged nineteen days later in an ocean. I felt nothing when the glass left me. The scar is snow white and shaped like a fairy's scythe. I didn't know the driver. He was young. It was an accident. The word with staples down the center held me together.

The car hit me like a big ole american dream. There was confetti and blood that resembled wet streamers on the street. I broke the windshield with the back of my head. The car was actually a truck. It was actually a basal skull fracture and torn ligaments. I broke the truck but the only bone the truck broke was the one in my head.

The car hit me like the lie a girl tells her parents when babysitting a younger family friend who is clueless and not cool, but cool with stopping to see some boyfriend named Mickey. The moon needs a cover story. The story says the girl who'd never kissed a boy, never drunk a Budweiser, never partied, suddenly went wild one night. The girl's thirst is what destroyed her. The girl wanted a peach Snapple. The story leaves out the drink and focuses on her white denim shorts. The girl who believes in ghosts must become one. The girl is unconscious in a room with other people attached to machines. The girl does not get to tell the story. The girl becomes the lie on the tip of their tongues she forgot to imagine. Her brain swells like a carnival balloon. She cannot speak English. She wakes up speaking French she'd learned over the summer. The story is a critical condition. The friend doesn't get to hook up with Mickey. The girl ruined the story by crossing the street.

The car hit me like friendship with an evangelical daughter who told the story to cover the sex she wanted to have with a boy named Mickey. The girl in the hospital must pay for the other girl's secret. She lies in the bed, marveling. The pain so intense she can only stare down at the flesh and tell the girl to climb outside it. She asks for water. The sirens run over her legs.

Alina Stefanescu was born in Romania and lives in Birmingham, Alabama. She serves as Co-Director of PEN Birmingham. Her debut fiction collection, Every Mask I Tried On, won the Brighthorse Prize and was published in May 2018. Her writing can be found in diverse journals, including Prairie Schooner, North American Review, FLOCK, Southern Humanities Review, Crab Creek Review, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Virga, Whale Road Review, and others. She serves as Poetry Editor for Pidgeonholes, Co-Organizer of 100,000 Poets for Change Birmingham, and proud board member of Magic City Poetry Festival. She won the 2019 River Heron Poetry Prize and she still can't believe any of this is real. More online at or @aliner.

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