She’s turning me around and round, singsong lemme me touch you down there or I won’t be your friend. I was small and fragile like the antique vases in her parent’s living room, the ones we could lookbutdon’ttouch. We blew kisses into the emptiness and whispered little girl prayers, tugging our pigtails loose and popping pink bubblegum. We twirled and stomped bare feet, transformed into mermaids and unicorns, swearing to never return to our human selves. Shhh, she sang, her hands two sleepy birds cradling me, you don’t want to be a little girl forever.
Lord, have mercy, come on and shake it, so I do, his eyes on my body, a fifteen-year-old body I’m still zipping up every day like a costume, trying to make it fit. Hands pull-push while bloated raindrops plop against the patio glass door. My cat Sheba is meowing to be let inside, a tiny black paw swatting the glass and wiping rain aside, shaking fur, wild eyes locking on mine. He has me pinned, wire-bristle beard scalding my skin. A week ago, Sheba dropped a still-struggling bird on my lap. I screamed and yelled while she skit-scat out the door but now she’s back and I can’t move. Her mouth open-shuts while a siren churns and wails, a stack of storm clouds layering the sky.
Jenny, I Read
Something you said about rock and roll, about life and death, words glued in my mind. So I huff but don’t puff, I drag hard and pass to the left (not the right) and the smoke cloud sits heavy on my chest like my older brother when I was ten, poking at me, calling me bratface. Our skin twitches, we need more, and it’s already been bed time and wake time for two weeks now. I watch an orange sun fall and a red sun bounce from outside the apartment window while a man sits cross-legged on the couch and whispers I can see the red tail lights heading for Spain. My best friend’s in the kitchen with the refrigerator door open, laughing and poking at something wrapped in plastic. Last year, a freshman at our school went missing. She’s my ex’s sister and she isn’t known to run the streets. I see her staring at me from the back bedroom, her eyes small and white. Maddie, Maddie? She’s nodding and curling her fingers. When I follow her into the burning bedroom I understand why the sun shifts from orange to red to orange.