Clutching my index finger, wishing my other hand was a bag of frozen peas. It’s not.
In Bargain Home stores, ultra slim filter tips, papers. Can I have a packet of your cheapest, finest tobacco?
At the bar, it’s a glass of your cheapest, finest wine.
Everything is the cheapest, finest.
I like the feel of the tobacco pouch.
I can’t do it. It’s not cylindrical. It’s fat in the middle. Then the filter tip falls out.
Stick it back in.
Smoke it, clutching the end to stop it falling apart.
My parents didn’t teach me how to make a roll-up. They taught me to not smoke.
They taught me life was valuable, but behaved as if it wasn’t.
I go to the gym, daily. Goggles on in the pool, swimming, fast. Three strokes per breath. I haven’t forgotten. I don’t even think about it.
I’ve the pool to myself.
In the steam room, three men come in.
“Hi” guy says.
I picture myself as the girl in the porno, one man for each orifice.
They are breathing heavily and grunting as they exhale.
I stay long enough so as to be polite.
Shopping. Trying on dresses. Dresses.
I’ve given in. I’ve given in to peer pressure.
I don’t buy anything. Of course I don’t. Nothing fits. But even the fact I’m trying them on. Taking them to the changing room and trying them on.
I hope I don’t bump in to anyone I know.
How would I explain my secret transvestism. Because that’s what it feels like.
The bruise on my arm has been there for 3 weeks now, and shows no sign of fading. If anything, it’s getting darker and more painful. And smaller bruises are forming a line alongside it.
My colleague today, pointed out the translucence of my skin. The green vein that runs at a 45 degree angle from my temple to my cheekbone. That’s me. That’s my blood supply. The same blood supply that has caused my index finger to swell up.
I knocked it. I knocked my arthritic joint, on the steering wheel and I’ll be in pain for a month.
Second metatarsal. I stepped on a rock awkwardly on the sea floor. Two years of pain. And a tiny fracture, that gets bigger as bone grows over. Seizes up.
This is the life that my parents thought was precious.
A malformed skeleton and pulped innards
Choose your poison. My dad chose beer and liver failure.
More than anything, I am trying to be one person, rather than several.
I don’t want to be weak.
Being teased is a funny one. It’s meant well. It’s how my parents express affection. It’s how my friends express fondness. It’s how people who are in love with you are cruel to you five times before relenting for the sixth.
When I was nine I was the lion in the Wizard of Oz. And it didn’t matter that the microphone broke. I sung my little heart out, singing for courage.
Or at least, my parents told me I did. I don’t remember it.
I remember practicing, jumping out on Dorothy, over and over.
I was supposed to scare her.