My neighbor Tracy and I wanted to commit to each other in blood. We climbed through a tiny passageway that looked enchanted and green under the railroad tracks, perfect for a blood ritual.
I’d seen blood, from shattered plate glass windows when my stupefied Daddy fell and cut his head. Plenty of blood. Tracy reached into her pink shorts pocket and pulled out a paring knife wrapped in paper towel.
“Let’s cut our thumbs and suck. I’ll go first.” Tracy lifted the blade to her thumb, took a breath, and I almost fainted as she ran the blade lightly, wincing and squeezing until a thin red line showed.
“Can’t I just pull off this scab?”
“No. Do it like I did.”
We sat side by side, avoiding eye contact. I took the knife and held it for what felt like a week, brushing its tip to my thumb like a feather, not a slice. No blood.
“Do it again.”
In a daze, I replayed the knife and pushed a little deeper, incising a papercut on my thumb pad. When it started stinging, I tried blowing out the pain.
“Okay, squeeze it.”
Relieved I had the guts to make a cut, I squeezed hard until blood specks made a made a dotted line.
“Ok, let’s just suck.”
The salty taste of Tracy’s skin surprised me. I told myself this was real and I was a Miwok. Clouds of other cultures crowded in.
I wasn’t Indian. Tracy refolded the paper towel around her knife and put it back in her pocket. Something about that knife’s plastic handle made our sacrifice seem cheesy, and I felt disappointed.
“We’re blood now. It’s mixed up. We’re sisters.”
We sat in summer grass with soggy thumbs and felt old.
“It’s just like the Miwoks,”
No, it wasn’t.