Issue 102 Jan 2022
Wincing, I looked over my shoulder at the figure silently mimicking my every movement. What looked back at me was an echo of my own face, down to the contorted lines, scrunched nose, and furrowed brow. She looked in as much pain as me and who could blame her?
My eyes traced the curves of the reflected body in the mirror past the valley of her narrow waist as it opened wide into a dark sea of denim blue--the culprit of my pain.
I had to be honest though. Despite the circumstance I was in, these skinny jeans really did look good on me. Too good in fact. They accentuated curves I didn’t even know I had, especially my butt, which now resembled two large bulbous pads.
But now, if only I could get them off.
I sucked in a deep breath, my ribs rising to create a cavity of space where the button was situated. However, the stubby fingers that fumbled with the button weren’t even able to get it through the hole that held it in place. Was that opening always so small?
After another minute of tugging and pushing, I gave up when the redness in my fingers matched the color of my face. Defeated, I waddled over to the toilet bowl only to find that I wasn’t even able to bend my legs to sit down. Somehow, I managed to make it work by keeping my legs extended and reclining my back so that my spine was as straight as possible.
Painted a shitillion times and in a perpetual state of latex molting, The Pelee Islander was a floating tin can. Mr. O said to pass the trip across Lake Erie writing in our journals: observations on nature and over-consumption and our plan for saving the planet from corporate greed and political corruption. And as an aside: what did we want to change about ourselves?
We were about to graduate from high school.
I passed the trip nose-in-phone, absently peeling paint scales off the seats and rails. Two hours of sitting did nothing for my especially-achy left leg. To distract myself from the pain, I drooled over the picture of Mason. It had been a week. Why could I not remove his picture? Why hadn’t I changed it to him with horns on his head and warts, or a mustache and angry eyebrows? Keeping Mason’s pic as my home screen proved I wasn’t over him, that I hadn’t moved on.
Scroll…scroll…I stopped on the image I’d posted two minutes ago. Jack Peters liked it already. I scanned the deck. There was Jack, by the stairs. He smiled into his phone, possibly, hopefully, at my cleverness. The pic was me, holding Mason’s necklace over the rail of The Pelee Islander with a malevolent grin and the caption: a woman’s heart is full of secrets. I shouldn’t have done that. It was mean. But I didn’t actually drop the necklace into Lake Erie, so it was only theoretical assholery—all I had the courage for.
Jack caught me staring. I was actually staring through him, thinking about Mason and that look of revulsion on Mason’s face when he found me out. The one right before: “Why didn’t you tell me?”