Excerpt from Burn Fortune (a novel)

by Brandi Homan


Jeremy wants to go to the haunted house, the one they used in the tornado disaster movie. Just the place, he says.

Chet drives, a beige whale. It’s warm and dusty on the upholstery. I sit in back next to a pile of pop bottles, Marci up front on Jeremy’s lap holding the roof with one hand, drink in the other. I squeeze my feet next to the case of beer on the floor and look at the glow on Marci’s face from the dash.

None of us are beautiful in the pale green. All of us are.

We arrive at the house, stumble out. A few feet ahead, Chet turns and reaches back an open hand. Come on, he says. Just like that.

Jeremy and Marci get to the porch first, dropping the beer in the dirt. Chet leans down and paws me one, then one for himself, popping the tops. Never lets go of my hand.

Jeremy throws a flashlight in through the door, ventures inside a few steps. The light switch doesn’t work, enough electricity running through us to light a football field.

We scoot in as our eyes adjust to the dark, silent until Chet pokes Marci’s waist and she jumps and I scream. He turns and brings the beer in from outside, cardboard swinging from his fingers.

Marci and I settle cross-legged in a patch of moonlight from the window. Jeremy sits behind her and she leans back. Chet next to me, the beer. Everything condensing, happy.

It doesn’t take long before Jeremy leans down to make out with Marci. I have another beer. Another. And another.

Finally, Chet turns to me, gestures with his head to the rackety stairs.

Come on. Just like that.



I am twirling a flag, love, it feels so good colors whizzing by, fast as I can imagine I want to go. Red and pink and black lined with silver. I am always in the parade, sequin headband, pleather boots.

In this dream, it starts to snow. The wind whips my face, makes the tears come, fingers hard to move. My toes cramp as the snow begins to drift. My heels slip. I march, twirl, march, twirl, bright comet in midnight sky. The snow piles. I can barely move my legs. Waistband wet, chest heaving, forehead on fire.

I know someone is watching, somewhere, so I keep chin up.

The insides of my cheeks stick to my teeth.

My earrings blister to my ears.




Upstairs, Chet peels my t-shirt up over my arms and I hold them there, genie princess. Let him look. Moving toward him, I stumble. Everyone says sex is such a big deal but it feels good to be out of my head. I lay back on my t-shirt and he lowers himself to me, skin cold, blood hot. My hair catches the floor planks. I want to feel like we own each other but I don’t, so I roll back into my skull. Outside is jarring. Inside, coddled with fluid. I slosh and slosh..

He pulls my hips, turns me over. I have never done it like this before. Low, I low. Uhhhhhh. Yeah baby, take it. Flow and slap. Shadows and swirl and the white line of the windowsill. The rough grains of wood under my hands.

A pause and silence. A sharp, a widening.

My teeth go cold, dry. The wood under my hands. The window.

Hold on. Hold on.

The window, the white, the sill.

Jeremy finishes on my back, wipes himself off.

I flop to my stomach, cheek on fist. Breathe, I breathe.

Apparently Marci didn’t want to make out with Jeremy any longer, had walked to the light on the blacktop to pout and wait for a passing car.

I guess you could say I’m not friends with Marci anymore.




There is nothing to do but sit up, get dressed, go downstairs. Halfway down I vomit, splattering my legs and shoes with beige bile.

Chet is outside the house, leaning next to where there used to be a door. His silhouette is blackish-green and he wipes his mouth quick before looking at me. I wipe my mouth with the back of my hand in return, rub it on my jeans.

When I wake I’m in the back of Chet’s car. He’s draped a thin flannel shirt over my body. We’re parked two doors down from my house, away from the streetlight. My mouth tastes like metal and rice.

As I climb out the door, he nods and I nod back.




Marci tells everyone My Boyfriend used to beat me, moves out of our locker like a divorce.

The New Girl lends me a Magic 8 Ball.

I shake it and am most definitely not pregnant.

I am most definitely not.

I am most definitely.

I am mostly not.

Note: the phrase "The Evolutionary Appetite" is taken from George Bernard Shaw's Saint Joan.

Brandi Homan holds a PhD in English, Creative Writing (Prose), from the University of Denver and is the author of two books of poetry, Bobcat Country and Hard Reds, both from Shearsman Books.