The Blue Cup

       She lay on the table and looked up. There was a naked light bulb directly overhead and it was bright so she shut her eyes again.

       Before that, she opened her legs and the doctor with an accent she couldn’t place said, “this’ll only hurt for a second,” and scraped her insides with something cold.

       Before that, she peed into a plastic cup.

       Before that, the nurse called her honey and gave her lots of forms to fill out.

       Before that, the cop asked if she knew her name and what day it was and the name of the school she went to.

       Before that, a girl she didn’t know kept saying are you okay, while she threw up into a dirty toilet bowl.

       Before that, she woke up on the floor of a stranger’s room. There were coats on the bed. Her phone was missing and she didn’t have any underwear on.

       Before that, the music got really loud and the room she was in started fading in and out, like that time in high school when she took molly for the first and only time.

       Before that, Jake got beers for each of them. The cup wasn’t red. It was blue.

       Before that, she was thinking if Jake became her boyfriend they could go to Tahoe together over spring break.

       Before that, Aimee went off with some junior on the swim team and Caroline said the party was lame and went home.

       Before that, a cute boy named Jake, with a scruffy beard and a Bulls sweatshirt on, asked if she wanted to dance.

       Before that, she cut the tags off her new dress. Black with a scoop neck and a ragged hemline. She’d bought it on sale at Urban Outfitters. 60 percent off.

       Before that, Caroline said let’s go to the movies. Robert Pattinson is in something and it’s not about vampires. Then Aimee said no, let’s go to Kappa Sig. Their parties are always good.

       Before that, she started working on her English paper but only got as far as the second paragraph.

       Before that, she made index cards to study for the Bio test on Monday.

       Before that, she put on a ratty sweater that she found at Goodwill and took ugly selfies that she posted on Instagram and they all laughed.

       Before that, she and Caroline lay out on the grass and got tan.

       Before that, she got in a fight with her mother on the phone. Her mother wanted her to come home for Easter, but a friend of Aimee’s had invited them all to go skiing at a place where they make artificial snow.

       Before that, she did two loads of laundry and washed her car.

       Before that, it was morning. A cardinal hopped around outside her window. One of her roommates had already woken up, and she heard sounds in the kitchen and could smell coffee brewing.

       The start of another day.

Beth Sherman

Beth Sherman received an MFA in creative writing from Queens College, where she teaches in the English department. Her fiction has been published in The Portland Review, KYSO, Black Fox Literary Magazine, Sandy River Review, Blue Lyra Review, Panoplyzine, Sun Star Literary Magazine, Peacock Journal and Gloom Cupboard and is forthcoming in Delmarva Review and Joyce Quarterly. Her poetry has been published in Hawaii Pacific Review, Hartskill Review, Lime Hawk, Synecdoche, Gyroscope and The Evansville Review, which nominated her poem, “Minor Planets” for a Pushcart Prize this year. She has also written five mystery novels.