A High Ridge Homecoming


I see you walk into the bar, Robby, and I get that fiery rush in the pit of my stomach. I giggle like I’m in high school. You tell me after three years, I look the same. You call me Mandy-kins and say I still got them dimples.

Well, course I do. I want to say that but I don’t. Instead, I smile and pour you a Schlafly.

I ask what brings you back to High Ridge. I bet it’s to see me, I joke. But deep down, I mean it. I think you know I mean it too by the way you look at me.

But you say you’re back home to see your momma. You call her and call her but she’s not answerin’ and so you come out to see her and she’s not around. Nobody’s seen her neither. You ask if I’ve seen your momma.

I say no, and then I ask if you wanna go to Steeger Lake like we used to. Remember we used to skinny dip in Steeger Lake?

You nod and say yeah, you remember, but then you look around the bar and I see you starin’ at those skanks with the big tits. Those are dumb sluts, Robby. Nobody wants to bring them home to their momma.

But Robby, you can bring me home to your momma. Oh wait, you did that already, and the dumb bitch thought I wasn’t good enough for her precious son. Thought I was too trashy with a junkie daddy and no, she didn’t say nothin’ like that, but I could tell. I could tell that bitch didn’t like me none ‘cause of my daddy.

If my daddy were gone, then I’d be good enough for you, Robby. And your momma would say I was a good girl, and she’d tell you to marry me. And you’d listen to her ‘cause you always listened to her.

That really stuck in my gizzard, Robby. How much you listened to that bitch.

But then my daddy OD’d and drowned. Remember, Robby? They found him in Steeger Lake, and I cried and cried. You were so sweet to me. You didn’t leave my side for three days. I remember, Robby. It was the best three days of my life.

But then you left for Cali. Left me here to sling drinks and sit home alone in my empty trailer. That shit ain’t right. So I had to get you back here, Robby, don’t you see? Once you saw me again, you’d remember all the fun we had. And you’d say I was beautiful and you’d touch my dimples and touch me everywhere. Just like you used to in high school. I just needed to get you back out here.


It’s been a week now since you come back, and you’re not actin’ the way you’re s’posed to. You’re not bein’ the Robby I love. You’re bein’ a real asshole, you know that? You’ve barely said two words to me. Just orderin’ Schlaflys is all you’re doin’.

Okay, maybe it’s ‘cause you found out your momma’s dead. Well, we all found out, didn’t we? The sheriff hauled her bloated body out of Steeger Lake yesterday, and the whole town’s been talkin’ bout nothin’ else. Two drownings in three years. A lot for a small town.

I get that it’s hard for you. You’re upset and you need time to mourn and all that shit.

But I’ve been patient and understandin’ for a few days now. I invite you over and you mumble some dumb excuse. You blow me off like I smell or somethin’. It’s time to get over it, Robby. We can be together now.

But instead you talk about goin’ back to Cali. You can’t stand bein’ here in High Ridge with memories of your momma. Shit, you can’t even stay in her house. You gotta rent a room at the Super 8. I know ‘cause I see you stumble there every night after closin’. Room 6.

No invite for me to come along neither.

That really sticks in my gizzard, Robby.

~ fin ~

Sarah M. Chen has published over twenty crime fiction short stories with Shotgun Honey, Crime Factory, and Betty Fedora, to name a few. Cleaning Up Finn, her noir novella with All Due Respect Books, was an Anthony finalist and IPPY award winner. Her latest release is The Night of the Flood, a “novel-in-stories” from Down & Out Books which she co-edited with E.A. Aymar. Visit Sarah online at https://sarahmchen.com.