In the bunker, Betsie sold kisses for bites of a sugar mouse. She leaned towards boys, dress swirling, luminescent buttons glittering in the gloom.
Lips hungry, I whispered secret syllables: her hidden, forbidden name.
Later, her father rationed bacon, slipped Mama extra slices. Mama smoothed consonants, pantomimed tricky digraphs, tongue tucked behind teeth. Meanwhile, Betsie’s breath fogged counter glass. She scrawled a ‘sorry’ fingertipped with hearts.
Too late, I ate my words.
Now, the butcher shop is boarded, defaced by mangled imitations of my mumbles in the dark. Alone, I suck on saccharine string, smothered by the rancid, cloying air.