The first skin I tattooed was orange peel. Supposedly the texture is similar to humans. I bought a kilo of oranges to practice on before you agreed. You came down for the weekend, watched as I tested the weight of the needle in the nook of my hand. When I cut into the first orange, there was no thread of blood – just juice.
The plastic surgeon, a short, blond-gray mustachioed man comes in to tell me he’s headed to the OR and will see me in there. He taps the rail of my bed twice, a gesture I take as doctorly affection, and turns to leave the room. I call after him, “Just remember—think small—like, real small. Like, just get rid of ‘em!” Dr. Haynes reminds me that this breast reduction is not cosmetic surgery.
It happened in a matter of seconds, this overlay of violence in my mind, that took us into another life, and then it was gone. Perhaps what I wanted was to have my future thrust upon me. No, I thought, just another anxious fantasy. It was just the mind’s preparation on overdrive. It all might have happened differently. The alligator had every intention of biting her. Tori’s face flashed with anger momentarily before Frank tried to pull her away.
The Adriatic Highway, a ligament that holds the tectonic states together / A transparent field of magnetic vessels swaddling a crumbling desert / nosing the star-map a clan of deer migrate West / Sultry doe-eyed creature of darkness revolving around the metallic pole as a planet around its star in heat.
Mother and the children had never killed before. That was Father’s work. All month long the rain came down, and gray-faced Father coughed in his bed, shrinking into a yellowed quilt. Mother and the children waded in the garden leaves and plucked off the heads of squash and tomatoes, ripped hairy potatoes out of the dark. But there was no meat on the table.
Jacob opened up an entirely new door for us. After that, we often spoke to the camera directly, to our therapist, when it felt like speaking to each other was getting us nowhere. I loved how cinematic it felt, how odd it was to speak through the lens. I was reminded of a moment in Chris Marker’s Sans Soleil, where the narrator says: Frankly, have you ever heard of anything stupider than to say to people, as they teach in film school, not to look at the camera?
At sixteen, life is supposed to be safe. Things are supposed to be beginning. We are supposed to be weaning from the care and guidance of people who have raised us. We are supposed to be on the brink of our adult lives. We should be taking the reins and figuring out how to care for ourselves, and we should have our most basic needs met so that we can care for others. It’s a volatile, dizzying, restless age. It is not always sweet.