2023 Short Story Competition

The Angels

Donnie and Bonnie, two beautiful little losers, lay themselves down underneath the
bleachers while talking about life. Donnie smells like his mom’s lavender soap and Bonnie
smells like cheeseburgers; together they smell like a summer picnic.
It’s 86°, and they are under sunny skies. After a thorny and overlong winter, the
Powerade blue wide open sky appears to them something indecent. Something better kept
cloistered away in a den of clouds, away from them.
They can’t wait for it to be winter again, or at least night. The Snapchat yellow sun has
moved class outside, and now the boys play football and the girls play field hockey divided like
tiny specimens.
The boys are running drills, and Donnie admires what he can’t have. They’re sweating,
laughing, jumping. Donnie wants to be free like that. But boys will be boys and he’s never been
good at being one.
Slender Donnie has just gone through a growth spurt, so his limbs bend oddly. He also
has an uneasy, feminine face covered in pimples and dry patches. Bonnie has gone through a
growth spurt of her own, one that has her unable to run the mile. Her face has the charm of a
cabbage patch doll, and her smile is always genuine. They have no one but each other and they
know it. It’s a dangerous game they’re playing, even just for a while, holding each other
responsible for their lives.
“I think I’m a nihilist.” Donnie says. Bonnie squints and opens her mouth.
“What the fuck does that mean.”
“I guess I just don’t care anymore. Life is so much more interesting when you’re not
trying to be anything.”

Bonnie nods and fingers her necklace, its B charm dangling around.
“Honestly, that’s why I love you, you just don’t care.” Donnie continues.
“Well, that’s just how I am I guess.” Bonnie awkwardly chuckles, feigning her
awkwardness; Donnie laughs.
Bonnie thinks the P. E. teacher sees them, and they chase each other, laughing, back
inside. P. E. is their favourite class to skip.
A calming spring glow jaundices the never ending linoleum hallways and rooms. The
calmness dies when Bonnie and Donnie come around. They have this jittery spark that is
undeniable; they always say that if Donnie was straight, they’d be one of those couples who
marry right after graduation and immediately start birthing babies.
In the girl’s bathroom, Bonnie with one hand on her vape and one swiping on her phone,
tells her friend about the sex she’s having: how it actually feels, using strange metaphors.
Donnie doesn’t really get that from the boys or girls or whatever in porn. They just moan and
hurl or take insults.
She knows Donnie lives vicariously through her, but doesn’t know that he resents her a
little for it. He might not even know that. Donnie often thinks about lying to Bonnie about
having sex, but knows that means he won’t be able to tell her when it really happens. She’s
hooking up with an older boy named Charlie who smokes cigarettes and sells oregano as weed
to freshmen.
Bonnie posts a quick snapchat story, releasing white smoke out her lips.
“Yo, Charlie just responded to my story.”
“Lemme see.”

“Oh, it’s just a cloud emoji.” Bonnie quickly exits snapchat and slides her phone into her
back pocket. Donnie takes a hit of her vape and tells her to ask Charlie for weed. She pulls her
phone out again.
They so desperately want to be older. To be thirtysomethings, attending AA together,
sipping coffee in the corner with eyebags in tow.
When school lets out, Donnie hangs awkwardly over Bonnie and Charlie in the parking
“Here.” Bonnie pulls a $20 bill from her wallet.
“No need, dude.” Charlie knowingly smiles, his teeth sharklike and sexy. “It’s on me.
Hey, there’s this thing at my friend’s house tonight. I’ll text you the addy.”
“Cool.” Bonnie replies.
“Cool!” Donnie repeats. Charlie’s eyes move over to Donnie and then back to Bonnie.
“Cool.” Charlie smirks and gets into his car.
In Donnie’s bedroom, they sniff the weed. It doesn’t smell like an Italian restaurant,
fortunately. Bonnie packs it into her bong and they position themselves by the window. Weed
usually makes them chew scenery even more than normal. But now, they end up lying on
Donnie’s pilled childhood blanket, littered with hockey mascots and nosebleed stains.
“I feel fucked.” Donnie says.
“If you’re lucky.” Bonnie replies.
“Shut up. Actually.”
“Well…me too.”
“Well, you’re not really a freak, you’re just, like, looked down on for being slutty; I’ve
known my life was over since before, like, my 9th birthday.’

“Well, you’re not really a freak either, there’s so many people like you out there.”
“Somehow that doesn’t make me feel better.”
Bonnie starts to snore, and Donnie realises that this strain must be the type that is more
depressive than fun. He feels smarter, and less comfortable. The reason he smokes weed is to
get dumber, not to do therapy on himself. He truly wishes for a precisely placed brain injury to
provide him permanent smooth mental sailing. He gives in to sleep to escape himself.
He wakes to Bonnie brushing her hair on his bed, staring into her phone screen. Outside,
a cleansing seafoam hue is sinking onto the neighbourhood.
“Get ready bitch. It’s 8:45. I told your mom we’re going to the movies.” she tells him.
“Shit. Okay.” He says. Donnie pulls out cheap vodka from under his bed. They take
shots helped by Diet Coke, and suddenly they’re at the party, making a point of making eye
contact with everyone.
“Everyone’s so fucking fake. Look at all the boys in their crisp white tees. They’re just
trying to be blank fucking canvases for us to project our fantasies on. I guess individuality isn’t
sexy.” Donnie says.
They get to the kitchen, and Bonnie dares Donnie to drink someone’s whiskey. He
dutifully chugs as much as he can before spitting some of it up onto his shirt. Bonnie laughs,
unembarrassed, and takes the bottle. Donnie isn’t embarrassed because Bonnie isn’t
They eat pieces of leftover cake from what they gather is a dog named Yoshi’s 4th
birthday cake.
“Lemon Frosting. It’s shit. Dogs’ll eat anything.” says Donnie. Bonnie concurs with a
sweet smile that turns her eyes into slices. They’re so drunk that they feel like their minds have

been suspended in the air, and that they are watching everything unfold around them on
television. They feel like they’ve sieged Heaven, with all the patches of untanned elbows
protruding from white cotton blends, with all the fruit-scented vapour everyone’s spilling from
their lips, and the house, all neutrals and Minimalism.
They feel great. They feel like they could feel like this all the time. Suddenly, they’re not
so great. Donnie offends somebody, they break a vase or two, and get several ‘Why are they
even here?’s. Bonnie sees Charlie laughing with his friends, looking at each other with some
private agreement on who Donnie and Bonnie are, and that’s what really gets her.
Donnie falls on the way home, and Bonnie has to prop him up. She’s sobering up. The
moon glares its steely punched-out hole at them. She feels annoyed with Donnie. How he’s so
full of fear and anger and doesn’t even know it. How he wishes so bad to be someone else. How
he always ends up going too far, too extreme, too crazy.
Bonnie imagines a day when Donnie doesn’t need her, and when she doesn’t need him
to need her. They’d go to different community colleges and lose their love for each other,
dismissing it as circumstantial. They’d make friends with pleasant people with jobs and
boyfriends and no baggage. Every moment of what follows is pain, becoming like everyone
else, but they get used to the idea that life is pain: at some point, forgetting they are even in it.
They become like their parents and only complain about mundane things, like the construction
work blocking their parking spots or inflation. They become jaded.
She figures she can hack it on the sidelines with Donnie. She’s not yet ready to give up
on love.

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