Adelle Malabou hanged herself from the basketball hoop in her parent’s driveway wearing a homemade dress no one had ever seen before, and barefoot. She was high up in those cross beams behind the backboard that attach to the wall above the garage door. We thought no one was around; the Malabous were out of town, that’s why we came to use the hoop. I couldn’t get her down. I couldn’t even get rim back then. When I saw her face I dropped the basketball and it echoed a thousand times and a thousand centuries away, my little brother dropped his plum, just made a thud. He said to me “you could see her panties.” He was at that age. But it was true: the back of her dress had got caught up in something behind the backboard and we could see her black underwear and a little chubb of the bottom of her butt. I’d never seen panties in that way either, even though I was a few years older. Not on a real live girl. Couldn’t even get rim.
The dress hung up like that made the whole thing look botched and inappropriate. I put my brother on my shoulders and we tried to straighten it out. I felt his little bone on the back of my head through his shorts as he stretched his fingertips past her thighs and I remember thinking ‘we’ll have to talk about this one day, but not now’, then he clipped the hem of her delicate dress between his middle and forefinger and released the cinched-up dress where it fell naturally below her knees. The motion caused the body to swing a little, creak some, which looked weird because there was simply no wind this summer.
I said to my brother “you want me to let you down?”
He said, “I’ve never been this close to the rim. It’s really big. I don’t know how we miss so much.”
Rich Baiocco is the author of the short story collection Julie In Mittens. Almost drowned in the Pacific ocean the night he finished writing it. Working on new things now. Atlantic oceans.