They weren’t the first words I spoke to Stephen, but they were the first marinated in mustering up the courage to ask him out and bump uglies already. We were seated in the back of Mr. Duffy’s classroom, me having just royally failed my senior AP History midterm, due largely in part to already being accepted into art school and also because I was distracted by my first real, bawling-in-my-car-outside-Kenny’s-house teenage breakup. I had turned 180 in my seat to face him and breathily proposition an afternoon date: You. Me. Voracious ripping of meat from bone. Red hot smacking of lips. Guys like girls who can eat, I read in a Cosmopolitan once and had inferred from those “didn’t age well” mid-2000’s burger & beer commercials starring chesty bottle blondes and a firehose, inexplicably.
“That was the fun of the unknown, after all, the anticipatory ‘What if?'”
The name of the store was “Possibilities,” which I frequented with my friend at the time, Kara, the only Pisces in my life I’ve ever befriended. It sat next to a therapist’s office right off Pittston Avenue in Scranton, a therapist I visited only once at my mother’s urging after my parents divorced, but that’s not what this is about (although the timing of traumatic childhood event and thinking I was a witch pairs nicely, like spicy red wine and a good cut of meat.)
“When I see children, I feel nothing. I have no maternal instinct…I ovulate sand.”
To say I don’t like children is an understatement. As my boyfriend so aptly put it when explaining to friends, “You know that face you make when you take a sip of water and find out it’s vodka? That’s her face around kids.”
Its shell allows the lobster to grow in a constant state of infinite metamorphosis, adapting by needling its plumpness into every salty nook and cranny of armor like polycarbonate, both in simultaneous protection and prison, until, at last, it shatters the proverbial ceiling and wriggles free its naked, ancient body out into the sea’s thousand icy cold leagues, forgetting its cells will inevitably regenerate a shiny new casing. In this way, the lobster theoretically cannot die, its past, present, and future life already predetermined, evolving, molting and rebuilding in an eternal flat circle of time, unless predator or man finally, mercifully comes along and severs it.
“No judgment, no frills, no body shaming. Just a welcome mat on which to plant my barking dogs.”
It was October of 2019 and I was reading A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness, the first installment of the All Souls Trilogy. There’s a particular scene in the book when Matthew (vampire) invites Diana (witch), a yoga aficionado (and professional rower and alchemical historian and skinny blonde…groan) to a late night yoga session with a room full of other witches, vampires and daemons. It was a bit tedious, with a lot of subtextual dialogue in between descriptions of yoga poses with far too much detail. After the class, Matthew steamily tells Diana something about her being able to “twist your body into all sorts of shapes.” I don’t know why, but that stuck with me. I was suddenly jealous of this character (not super dimensional, I might add) in this just okay fantasy series. Why does Diana Bishop get to have it all? She has looks, smarts, witty comebacks to Matthew’s advances, AND can seamlessly align herself into a sideways fucking headstand? What CAN’T this bitch do, really? (I promise, I’m going somewhere with this.)
“You’ll never reach the center of an only child’s Tootsie Pop, the layers of narcissism run so deep.”
The hankering for fame like no other started as early as I can remember. I was an only child, so the center of attention simply by default, and I thrived most in climates where I was the focal point of the room. By four or five, I was already destined to be a Rockette at best, a groupie at worst, always discovered by my parents moving wildly in the center of some dance floor filled with drunk adults.
My father stood beside the wilted orange tiger lilies on the side of our house. So small and fragile compared to the grand spectacle in the sky. A meteor shower, a celestial trajectory of cosmic debris. Thousands, bright and fast, cascaded from the infinite galaxy to Earth. Earth, where my father and I stood, awestruck. I squinted to take it all in, despite my poor vision. “You’ll never see this again in your lifetime,” he said. His voice was ominous, echoing off the siding.
I fought to find the features of his face in the dark, grasping the unattainable, like catching a shooting star in a jar for keepsake.