Queen of the Hill

Buried Johnny Pump: South Brooklyn

Dear M – – – – ,

They’re making me write this, and I’ll trash it when I’m done, so don’t expect too much. Dr. Charon wants us to write these to get it out. The Hurt. He wants us to capitalize it, and I know it’s all BS, but if I’m going to write a fake letter then I might as well go all the way.

Last week my roommate went out on a belt. I found her first. She’d made her bed up nice and neat, folded her socks, dusted her shelves and fluffed her pillows. Watered her hibiscus and fed her koi, then levered her belt over the closet rack and kicked over the books she’d stacked in place of a stool. They were all self-help books. My roommate was funny like that.

We had group session today. Dr. Charon led it, and he decided we needed Allegorical, so we did the circle routine. Share How You Keep Yourself Safe. Live Your Grief In One Word. That old chestnut. Anyway, everyone was blabbering about their Hurt and I was just sort of leaving the circle and Charon was trying to stop me but I continued. I ran into the girls’ and locked the door.

So there’s this stall I always pick. Nothing too special about it, only it’s right by the heat vent and if you unroll the TP just right the air sort of takes it and makes it billow like Mom’s dress used to outside on windy walks. I don’t know if you remember.

I liberated a couple pins from one of the RNs. It’s a messy job but I make do. You always wonder why I ask for the thick socks, heavy and woolen, even in summer. They’re best at hiding the blood. Razors are quicker but there’s beauty in the pins. Constellations form and expand underneath my pins. Singularities bleed to supernovae. Neat little streaks you can whirl into galaxy spirals. And all that. There’s an art to it.

Sometimes I don’t cut at all. Sometimes I sit and I breathe and I wait for someone to try the faulty paper towel dispenser. There’s a lot you can learn about someone from how they treat faulty equipment. The trick is to reach in and jiggle the sensing mechanism. One jiggle for one towel. But girls will bang on it, open palm slap it. One girl nearly broke her fist on it. And on those times I don’t cut, when I’m in my stall and a girl does it all wrong, I’ll wait till she leaves, get one towel for one jiggle, and go back to Allegorical.

Charon is a jellyfish. You can see through to the other side. He thinks I’m cutting to “assert my identity.” He doesn’t know about the star maps and the TP dress billowing for a while before I tear it off and stain it red. He doesn’t get it.

Do you remember Mom’s lint rollers? When her hair first started falling out and she thought she had to hide it? At first you could only tell from the scraggly jungles stuck to sticky paper in the garbage. The paper would stick to the bag like it wanted you to know. And the bandanas and the hats and the rollers scraped over every surface till she’d stuck every damn hair in the house–hers or not. Dr. Charon tried to take away my bandana my first week and I punched him in the face. I can wear it whenever I want now.

Sometimes I sneak away after Lights Out and get lost in the labyrinth under the Center. I only let the girls with smuggled cigs tag along, and even then I stick to the baby route. The belly of the beast can’t be shared. They whine about shit like boys leaving them and I fake it for as long as my cherry will glow in the dark. I head back with or without them.

They’re strict on Recreation since last week’s breakout. Clean getaway. That could’ve been my roommate, but she had to go out on a belt. I spend Recreation out in the parking lot, looking for your beater. The snow that the plows deposited over curbs and into bushes has turned into a mini mountain range that obscures my view, so I climb to the top and perch from there. This makes some of the girls uneasy, but I tell them to go fuck themselves and they suddenly find the view behind them very interesting.

I know you just want me to get situated before you come for me. I get it. So I watch snowflakes gather on the pane and remember construction paper days with Mom. Before it all fell out. Sometimes I think I can gather her in the fog on my window, but only my reflection shows.

I give Charon incident-less days, days where I sit rapt in Allegorical and smile and cry in all the right places. At first he made the mistake of commending me and I called him a twat. He doesn’t make that mistake anymore.

Dad–can I still call you that?–I’ve situated. Okay? Joke’s over. Ha ha. You can take me home now.

Charon wouldn’t give me a stamp, so I liberated one from his office. Should find its way to you. Don’t worry about finding me out here–I’ll be the one on the highest peak, peering down over all my domain: Queen of the Hill. I love you. Shut up.

Ariadne

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Wannerin & Wunnerin, as featured on Flash Fiction Magazine

As promised, here’s a story I wrote that Flash Fiction Magazine published, called “Wannerin & Wunnerin”:

Deer Chri

I doan kno y we callit deer wen u aint got nantlers. N E ways I ben wunnerin wut make an homme get up n out in a morn wif a col always wisprin in yer ear liek a seecurt, only iss securt mean a stik u down ded in a dirt wif all dem hills runnin on down & up & thru liek farflies wen ey catch on yer swet & gloe in a lite a moon. I wunnerd wut appen time allandallalong far & away in loney time wen a time a storeys wuz & all a seecurts a sittys & build ins & all at wuz still roun…

Click here to read the rest of the story on Flash Fiction Magazine’s site! Thanks, guys!

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An Aesthetic/Anesthetic

alleyway

She came out of sewer grates, alleyways, locker- and bathrooms. Anywhere she could get equal footing. Had a stink about her. About was the best word because it was more descriptive than odorous: talcum powder sprinkled on week-old vomit. Feversweat collected under fat folds. Rank was kind. Rank was polite.

Followed behind, step for step. Would vanish when he’d turn around; fly into air ducts or toilet bowls or sticky corners. Stink would stay, though.

But she was A. listening B. watching C. smelling while he was 1. talking 2. walking 3. fucking. Hasty scribbles on pages where the answers go. Guess all of the above.

She’d put proofs in his head: “If God is omnipresent, then He/She/It is in the asshole of every diarrhea-addled creature.”

He wandered widely and sought answers in all the traditional places. Shared chifrijo at a greasy spoon down Avery with a Californian Zen master on Sundays. Said master heard what he said but didn’t seem to see her. The lady from the sewers. Suzuki and Watts on pages and tongues. Zen in the Art of Insert Here. Kids these days. I’ll get the check.

Would walk the cemetery alone most nights, looking for names he knew. She’d cling to his shadow and modulate to something like centuries of rot. Another proof: “If God is both omnibenevolent and omnipotent, then H/S/I isn’t good with definitions.”

He’d walk into Catholic Mass like the old C & E days sometimes. Strictly for an aesthetic reason, he assured you. Came out as anesthetic on the days when Father over-commited with the blood of Christ and didn’t want to drink alone. They’d fill paper cups to the brim and chat through the latticework. “You wouldn’t believe the things people tell me.” (After a couple cupfuls.) “Judas wasn’t as bad as we’d have you think. Someone had to do it.” (After half a bottle.)

She’d take the screen opposite Father and sit still, stare ahead. He couldn’t see her eyes, but he knew they were watching him.

Stood on ledges of old haunts and called appropriate ex-friends. Invited them to reunion hangouts while they tried to talk him down. Got a few free lunches this way. Nothing too snazzy, but hey. When he ran out of ex-friends he moved on to ex-girlfriends. A few suggested he jump. One just hung up.

He collected surfaces with which to reflect her. Phone screens. Parked cars’ mirrors. Those little plastic bubbles that quarter machine toys come in. Could’ve sworn he saw her this one time, but it turned out to be a half-naked homeless woman at the bus stop, trying to read texts over his shoulder. He was so relieved he let her finish reading. Used her suggested response, too.

Anyway, the bus stop lady said maybe he wasn’t suicidal. Maybe he was just sleepy and needed a nice nap. I could use a nice nap, she said. And he liked that, so he wrote it down and saved it for later.

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