It had taken a whole week for the swelling to subside, another two for the bruises to fade. Andrew didn’t tell me he had gotten into a fight. When he sat down in front of me in Algebra with a foam splint in his left nostril, he claimed he was injured during the wrestling match over the weekend. His opponent had accidentally kneed him in the face. That’s all he said before pulling his hood up and turning around to make graphs on his TI-84 calculator.
Andrew’s nose stayed crooked. Honestly it matched well with his pasty acne-scarred skin and sinuous upper lip. All this happened around the time I couldn’t stop listening to Ella Fitzgerald. I looked at Andrew and thought of My Funny Valentine. Now he had a crooked nose to match his thin lips and icy blue eyes. His looks were laughable, but he was my favorite work of art.
“He looks like a meth addict,” my friend Danielle said. I couldn’t disagree. Andrew once told me he liked to take apart small appliances. I found that strange, sure. But I was sheltered, and Andrew’s odd behavior had a certain appeal.
For instance: “I’m going to do some freighthopping,” was the last thing he said to me.
“I didn’t know people still did that,” I replied. This was right after graduation.
I recognized Andrew immediately when I saw his mugshot on the evening news. It was the nose. It cast a crooked shadow over his bloated white face. Five people had been critically injured at a shooting in a pharmacy somewhere in Nebraska. Two were dead. Andrew’s eyes were howling.
“There’s daddy,” I whispered, but our five-year-old was too busy scratching an orange crayon across an unpaid phone bill to look up.
Sophia Cosby lives and writes in Berlin. Her work has been published in Suburban Witchcraft Magazine and the bilingual literary journal The Transnational.