A Mystery

I spent most of my childhood in a shy bubble. I was so slow to learn to talk, people started to worry. And when I did talk, it was at select times, to select few. I lived on the sidelines; sometimes it was comfortable there, watching. Often I pined for the world that whirred along without me, and wished I had a place in it. Then adolescence hit. I became just as obnoxious as any other kid, if not more so. I started to make friends my father didn’t approve of. For one, Heather. She was a grade above me: my brother’s age. And she was big: my first overweight friend. My father despises the heavyset. He’d point at people going about their day, say things like “Look at that fat slob!“, loud enough for them to hear. If I tried to shush him, he would declare “A unhealthy body is a sign of an unhealthy mind.” Heather barely registered him. She’d come over and go straight to my room. I’d sleep over at her house and wake up in the middle of night to find myself pinned between the wall and her giant lacy-bra-clad breasts. It was awkward, but it was friendship: gathering up all the details of someone, filling my head with little fact after little fact, squeezing out my father’s opinions–his prejudices–starving them, letting them die. With each new friendship, a world discovered. When she turned eighteen, we started smoking. Just because. We would drive around in her family car she kept crashing. We played leads in the school play: an Agatha Christie mystery. She played a matriarch and I was cast as a double-crossing vixen, swindling her and everyone else. I spent the first act battling stage fright. My shyness returned–my self-consciousness. I imagined being an actress someday, like this performance of a dated play in a small town high school auditorium could cement that for me. And then, act three: I could hear people talking, heard music: someone’s Walkman. This was just another assembly for them; my schoolmates didn’t care. I cared too much. Heather’s character confronted me with a loud, owl-like “Whooo are youooo!?” It was way more dramatic than rehearsals. And she was leaning bug-eyed, right into my face. I swallowed a giggle and fessed up to my fiendish plot. As we sat side by side, tense adversaries, to hash things out over cups of tea, the stagehands had accidentally sugared the absolute crap out of hers. She tipped back her cup and poured a grainy sugar hill down her gullet, choked, and spat it back out. Onto her lap. Onto the floor. We locked eyes, scandalized. I don’t know who smiled first. We were laughing, hard, snorting, doubled-over. Mr. Rudd, the English teacher–our director–had to pull the curtain. And still, in the sudden, accidental darkness, with cast and crew and director bearing down with eyes that said what the fuck, we kept on, fed by the unchained euphoria of inappropriate laughter.

Published by msdeer

I am an interdisciplinary artist, slightly incognito here.

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