The Rodeo Queen disappeared. This happened during the parade. She felt so wonderful, everyone in town watching, she deer-legged and waving from the back of a Ford Mustang convertible, she at fifteen still yes a child but not being treated like a child, she could burst she could burst she could. Then her car at the head of the column turned a corner on the parade route, and she was briefly out of view, and when anyone thought to look at her again she was no longer there.

An effort was made to locate her. This is what should happen when the Rodeo Queen goes missing. Still, there were calves to rope, and a junior cowboy costume contest to judge, and an influx of valley people to fit into the town, somehow, and overcharge for parking and places to sleep. The Rodeo King slept through the parade and was busy failing biology/masturbating, so he was no help. He had no sense of the mystic or adventure. He just wanted to get by and get on with his life.

What can I say? Sometimes stories don’t go anywhere. The Rodeo Queen was there, and then she wasn’t. We forgot, quickly and painlessly. She did not get treatment deserving of her status. The world doesn’t care about girls, not really. And if you want this to matter. If you want something real from this, or if you just want pretty or nice or a clean ending. If you want satisfied. If you want joy or meaning or justice of a sort or the goodness of the parading world made true. If you want horses barreling in dirt, carving air like there’s nothing else but the present and the speed and the insuck of a breath, this one. If you want something like alive.


© Zach VandeZande
[This piece was selected by Sommer Schafer. Read Zach’s interview]