Thursday, March 15, 2012


Sophie:  Sleep pulls at me.  It’s fingers are twined through my brain, refusing to acknowledge the persistant beeping of my alarm. 
            “Sophia Margaret Lewellen, what the fuck is wrong with you?” screams my mother, who also bangs on the thin wall between our rooms with her fist.
            Sleep recoils, and I jump up, turn off the alarm, spin around in fright – is Momma coming in?  Will she trade me for the wall as a target for her fists?
            All is quiet again.  I’m standing on the bare wood floor, a sliver of space between my bed and my dresser.  Looking to the side, I check myself out in the mirror.  I’m not vain, it’s not like that!  I just can’t help it.
            All I can see is my stomach, protruding out as though I’m pregnant or something.  I think I grew fatter during the night.  Dropping to the floor, I begin a hard-core set of calisthenics, mostly working on my abs. 
            It’s almost eight when I finish, and the bus comes at eight-fifteen.  The clothes I’ve laid out are uncomfortable.  Itchy leggings and a long shirt that looked cute on the mannequin in the store, but only makes me look fatter.  Tossing through my closet, I end up yanking a pair of holey jeans out of the laundry pile and shoving my legs into them so fast, my foot catches on the hole in the knee and pulls it wider.  Don’t care.  Slip into a Hello Kitty black shirt I’ve had since I was eleven and it still fits, it fits great, it’s tight, and my ribs even show, and I’m not going to look in the mirror again, not going to check if my fat stomach is sticking out because it’s already eight-eleven.
            Rushing to my laptop, I start to write: 
            “Thirteen today.  Alone.  Momma’s in bed.  She won’t be up until after I get home, and then she’ll be on the couch with her big, plastic red cup of wine, and there won’t be a cake, but I don’t mind. I wouldn’t eat it anyway.”
            My bedroom door swings open, slams against the wall.  I jump.  Goosebumps rise on my arms.
            “The bus will be here in two minutes.  Two minutes, young lady!  I’m not driving you, don’t think I’m driving you.  What are you writing?  Are you writing about me?  Why don’t you write about yourself? Why don’t you write that you’re as skinny as a baby bird because you won’t eat, and your mother does nothing except try to make you the best meals…”
            She goes on, but I’ve already shut my computer and I don’t care if she reads my stuff while I’m gone, I don’t care about her.  I don’t need to listen to her lies.  One day I will be a famous writer and I will leave here and leave her and right now, I’m outta here.  Grabbing my backpack and hoisting it onto my shoulders, I bend over from the weight, but that’s good, because the position pushes my head out in front so I’m like a pointy missile, aimed at my mother.  She moves aside and lets me pass.
            I hear the bus as I run down the steps from the third floor, past the second, where Mrs. Findley lives and I smell bacon and my stomach twists inside, but I wouldn’t ever eat bacon anyway.  I won’t eat anything that used to have a head.
            I won’t eat anything.
            The bus chokes and grumbles past me just as I get outside.
            So what, I’ll walk.
            Staring down at the sidewalk, I’m careful not to step on cracks, but I count them as I go, and I’ve just passed crack number one hundred and ninety-eight when I see the bird.
            A cluster of flies rises off it as I get closer.  Only its skeleton and a few thin strands of flesh remain on it’s torso.  The head is gone.  But the wings!  They somehow remain completely intact, outstretched as if it is ready to fly.  

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