Because I used to stare at Mendy Frankl’s Adonis curls in statistics, because I had a pair of silver boots from Baker’s I got on clearance for $14.99 and Sharpied them to near-extinction, because I dreamed of being the kind of girl who had a red high heel on the end of a keychain, as if that were really even a kind of girl, I sometimes felt sad.
I was afraid of sandpaper and death. The former, because my fingers were always a little dry, and the latter, because of eternity. The scariest part of anything was always forever. Sometimes at school, I stood up on the toilet seat so that my feet were invisible. My lunch usually required a fork, and this was strange because most kids had sandwiches. I was a nail-biter, tomato cheeks all summer, and mediocre at the piano. My piano teacher was stern and had dyed black hair. Her pink nails clacked on the keys, and it mesmerized me. I liked playing the A minor chord over and over and pretending that a villain was coming.
Because I had a wallet made entirely out of duct tape, because I had no idea how to hold a pool cue, because I got cork in the wine, because I still accidentally disappeared sometimes, I thought I might not be lovable. I couldn’t be sure, because I used shampoo that came in a red cylindrical bottle and smelled like vanilla bean and coconut and felt superlatively beautiful in the shower. I folded the pages down when I was done reading for the night and relished the sound of the lamp clicking off. I imagined that, one faraway fall, someone would sweep me through starry Central Park in a wagon.
I stole several times, once from the Judaica shop where my mother was browsing menorahs. I plucked a watermelon sucker from a tiny plastic dreidel full of candy. I popped the pink gem into my mouth and stuffed the candy-wrapper between two very somber looking volumes of Jewish law. Afterward, I didn’t cry.
Because of honeysuckle, because I loved the way a wet sponge felt squeezing out in my hand, because of thick towels and the wind, I sometimes felt happy. I wrote fan letters to dead crooners and imagined the contours of ease. I slipped frequently into the blue belly of a Saturday night.
I sent a mixtape of love songs to a stranger with a deep voice and a toe ring. I got naked onstage in a tiny theater. I let a flamenco dancer plaster cast my breasts. I jumped off a fifty-foot cliff. I was still afraid of mirrors in the dark. I was decent at standing up straight, and decent at pretending.
Because I learned to walk from the girls at school who wiggled their hips, because my peripheral vision was runny, because sometimes extremely hot water felt extremely cold and this hurt my heart, I always felt worried I was missing something. I didn’t understand statistics. I didn’t understand why the boys scared and compelled me so. I didn’t understand why my eyes crossed and why I sometimes forgot to listen, and I didn’t understand why sometimes, at night, under the bathtub faucet, I thought about Shira Gross, the president of the eighth-grade Young Republicans with the deep voice and the shorn hair right underneath her ponytail.
Sometimes I drew on the walls. Sometimes we ate plain noodles with chicken and ketchup. Sometimes the line of treetops on the drive home meant I had never been lonelier. Sometimes I saw people who weren’t there. Sometimes a song would catch behind my eyes and not leave for days. Would I be loved? Sometimes, on my bed, inside the lavender walls, I would lie very still, trying to keep my eyes uncrossed, all of my attention on what might come.
Temim Fruchter is a writer who lives in Washington, DC. She believes in magic, queer possibility and hot noodles. She is in the University of Maryland’s MFA program for fiction, and her chapbook, I Wanted Just To Be Soft, came out on Anomalous Press in April 2016. Her work has appeared in [PANK], Tupelo Quarterly, The Washington City Paper, New South, jmww, Newfound, The Account and the Tishman Review, among others.