Sometimes I get bored and write inappropriate, childhood-destroying fanfiction. Here’s a picture of a panda.
They let me back into the playground. That’s how Outside feels now. One long six-month detention, a few recesses on day release, then the nurses told me I was safe to walk among the sane minority and the many crazies who aren’t in hospitals. I’m the latter. Adulthood is one long recess.
I look around Tapwater Springs and remember when I was half the door’s height at Abatti’s Pizza. Christ I’ve gotten tall. I duck under the door frame and bells jingle in my eardrum. They peep one last startled ting on account of the door slamming behind me. Behind the counter, I smell Nonna Abatti before I remember she’s gone. Gone like my childhood, my orange dresses. My parents’ marriage. Gina Lash. I told her those pastries would kill her and she told me to stop being a jealous bitch on account of her parents were still together. I told her to choke on icing sugar, but the gods didn’t give her such mercy. Depressed fat girls have trouble noticing the symptoms of diabetes. Her face grew a permanent scowl, she became one of the teenagers whose wrinkles made her look 30. Now I wear the square butch face and skin wooden from sadness and Gina Lash poisoned herself with fat before she could look like me. Lucky whore.
The ginger-bearded owners greet me behind their thick lenses. The sign outside lies. Abattis? Like hell.
Even their squeaky Canadian voices are pale. “Hey! Just a table for one?”
How do I look so alone? In the hospital, they kept us in groups. I sacrificed my days watching TV with an anorexic American, a schizophrenic and two heroin addicts. They called it health. If our system is better than America, no wonder they’re either obese or bony Barbie doll cunts.
A deep girl’s voice screams “Angela!” and I melt knees-first. I prepare to turn and Josephine Praline’s fingers hook into my back. Her full breasts clench into mine and our nipples harden against each other, even through her corset. She holds the small of my malnourished back. I touch the shaven patch above her industrial ear piercing. She pulls me and I taste her black lipstick. Josephine Praline. If we’d known how similar we were, long ago when she prayed and I daydreamed, we could’ve fucked for a decade.
“Aww, look at the happy couple. Table for two?”
“Yeah, two,” I call over my shoulder, by which I mean “How often do you paste your brother’s pubes onto your chin?”
Across the wooden table, Josephine’s eyes repeat my thoughts. We stare long at each other and she giggles. My heart stops on account of how long it’s been since I heard her laugh. A giant thump rattles my chest and I’m reborn.
“I know you were going to get out, Anna.” Anaconda. Serpent. Temptation. She loves that I’m named after something evil. “I mean you’ve been out, but not … forever. My family rang. My mother told me, stop worrying about that crazy girl. Come back to Jesus. Who does she think I am?” Her fingers cover mine. A silver goat’s head pendant nestles in her cleavage.
“Tapwater Springs. The only thing that changes here is the amount of wrinkles the people have.” Before the sentences finishes, I think of my cropped hair and sunken cheeks. Josephine Praline’s thick mascara and undercut. Gordy Rhinehart with his muscles and family and happiness. Last time we talked, he looked at the nearest mirror more than me. He announced he’d dropped his asthma inhaler on Mount Everest. He’d kept it so that his past could live and that now, all our childhoods had died. Josephine kissed me in front of him and he walked off mid-conversation. He’d been just as cold at Gina’s funeral with his new girl.
The front door chimes hard and in the windows, a blue beret floats translucent. Blonde curls bounce over a long grey coat. I tuck down my head and let my short hair disguise me.
“Well if it’s not Simone de Beauvoir and her bald lover.”
“Actually Nanette, I’m a Satanist. There’s a difference. You wouldn’t know, stuck in your tiny little world.”
They glare at each other and all the hatred pierces me.
“Come on Anna, don’t let her talk to us like that.”
“Sorry I didn’t get an itinerary for the circus. Oh wait, they call it a civil union now.”
I can hear the ghost of two voices behind her. Nanette’s cronies disappeared when they found themselves. Now only Nanette wants to be Nanette. Her thick makeup contrasts her soft, coconut scented hair.
“Suck my dick, Nanette Manoir. You’re a bitter catlady and men are terrified of having their junk snapped off inside you.”
“Crass as ever. Don’t get dust in your mouth when you eat each other’s rugs.”
She sneers and sits beside the window. We’ll see whose mouth is stuffed when I’m finished with you, Nanette.
You like the freak show? Step right up, I’ll show you the amazing ladyboy. I’ll tie you to a cage. When my panties drop, I’ll be even more Anaconda than Josephine can handle. Don’t scream, it upsets the bearded lady. Wait, that’s not a bearded lady, it’s just that you’ve been stripped naked and you are upside down having your head plunged in cold water, like they did to mental patients once. Gods, your nipples are hard. That’s not just the cold? Straddle me. Our clothes may be off but our buttons are touching. “Anaconda! Anaconda!” you will beg. Open your mouth Nanette Manoir, I’m going to stuff it with dust.
The pleasure fades and I feel the wood under my thighs again. My mouth’s open. I snatch a vial of pills from my pocket.
“Did you have another episode?” Josephine squeezes my hand.
The coffee steams. I gulp it down, slam the empty mug and rub my eyes.
“It’s the usual. I forget they’re not real. They say it’s not dangerous, but … shit. Shit! The things I imagine.”
Nanette’s coat hugs her figure.
“I disgust myself.”