Identical, page 10
feel necessary. Alive. This thing I
(no, can’t) is new. Forbidden.
(No. Don’t.) What’s wrong
with me? I can’t believe I
this. Why me? Why now?
Why at all? My hand floats
across my curvelessness,
moves lower, to the need.
Who (or what?)
can I make believe is loving me?
Am I Sick?
My skin is hot. Fevered. Demanding
to be soothed. Touched. Satisfied.
Have I gone crazy? I have never, ever
done such a thing. Never unlocked
this private room inside of me. Never
ever wanted to take a look inside.
Am I possessed? Entered by a demon,
chained and padlocked, inside of myself?
I feel possessed, taken by some evil,
sick desire. Desire I can’t control.
What is wrong with me? I don’t want
this. Oh God. It can’t feel good.
But it does.
But it does.
I go into the bathroom.
I’d like to take a hot bath,
but no time now. I’ll have
to settle for a shower.
The steamy cascade
streams over my body.
lifts in a fragranced
fog, cleanses and
perfumes skin and air.
Nasty stickers of hair
defile me, the goddess
within. I reach for my
razor, triple bladed
and critically sharp.
I’ve shaved my legs for
years, know to be careful,
yet suddenly I don’t
give a fuck and push
hard. The consequences
are immediate. Blood
streams from the long,
wide slice I’ve opened.
It vanishes down the drain,
and I can’t help but smile.
Yeah, It Stings
But at least I feel something.
Something besides hungry.
Something besides afraid.
Weird. I always thought
cutters were sick. Sicker
than me, even. But with
a single swipe I understand
why they do it. Why they like
it, even though they hate it.
I let the water run over the cut,
ratchet it hotter, watch the blood
slow, stutter, almost halt.
I like the way the exposed flesh
looks, all pinkish white. It looks
new, although I know that isn’t right.
It’s the same age as my skin,
my bones. Me. It’s been there
with me since the beginning.
Been there with me through
thick. Thin. Daddy. Suddenly
I don’t like how it looks at all.
Still exposed, I dress in loose
drawstring pants, a soft, baggy
blouse. Definitely not haute couture.
In fact, I look like a pregnant hippie.
To complete the look, I make two long
braids with my grown-out bangs,
pull them together in back. All I need
now is some daisies to weave in.
Several minutes behind my usual
schedule, guess I’d better skip
breakfast. Somehow I’ve lost
my appetite anyway.
Not gonna go double digits like this,
but I’ve got plenty of time to work on it.
And the baggy pants make me
look larger than the size seven
I keep trying to outgrow.
With homework and books, I maneuver
the hallway as quietly as possible.
Right hand on the latch, I’m almost out
into the cold, cold morning when
the sledgehammer falls:
Where do you think you’re going,
dressed like some lunatic street person?
Just the tone of Daddy’s voice makes
my entire body quake. I don’t dare turn
around, don’t dare look into his eyes.
In them, I know I’ll see the real lunatic.
I find an excuse. “Uh, we…we have
a play rehearsal this morning. This will
help me get into my role, that’s all.”
He doesn’t buy a word of it.
Today is Wednesday. You have drama
Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.
Has he actually memorized my class schedule?
Does he really keep an eye on such things?
I mean, yes, he’s a control freak and all….
I finally face him, crazy man in the eyes and all.
He’s there, okay, daring me not to admit
the lie. I know better. “Yes, that’s right,
but I’m already running late. I don’t
have time to change now.”
The lunatic levels me.
No daughter of mine goes out in public
like that. Go change. I’ll drive you.
I Back Up the Hallway
Eyes firmly planted on Daddy,
who follows. Why does it have
to be just the two of us here?
I want my sister. I want my mom.
Surely he won’t trail me into
my room. Won’t watch me undress.
Won’t stop me from transforming
from hippie to soc. Right? Right?
Please tell me I’m right!
I back into my room, start to close
the door, hoping he won’t push
inside. “I’ll hurry, okay, Daddy?”
I stare at him, try to measure
him, and the weirdest thought
flashes inside my head: He must
have been incredibly good-looking
once, before life crashed around
him. Took him down. He pauses.
Should I help you choose
what to wear? His voice
is soft as baby skin.
This can go a couple of ways.
Say no and face his anger?
Say yes and face…what, exactly?
Instinct tells me to accept his offer.
“Uh. Sure.” But I start to shake
as he steps through the doorway,
moves swiftly across the floor to my
closet, pokes inside, swaying back
and forth like an Indian cobra charmer.
This, he says, has always
been one of my favorites. You
look like your mother in it.
A pink angora sweater, pets
it softly, as if it were the bunny
the fur was stripped from.
He hands it to me, along
with a slim pair of burgundy
jeans. Daddy has good taste.
I take his offerings, start toward
the bathroom, but he stops
me with the force of his eyes.
I know what he wants. Sudden
nausea rocks me, but just as I think
for sure I’ll vomit right here,
the telephone rings, yanking
Daddy from his trance.
His head turns toward the door.
Oh. Been expecting that call.
Hurry and change. You don’t
want to be late for school.
The Jeans Rub My Cut
And painfully so, but the pain
reminds me that I’m still
alive, still in control
of at least one
Right now I need to feel more
in control, so I stash my
hippie clothes deep
in my book
Daddy is still on the phone.
I call “good-bye,” rush
out the door, down
the street, after
I can see the flash of its tail
lights, breathe its greasy
exhaust, but I
up to it.
I watch it swing wide, onto
the highway and up
the hill toward
Behind me, I hear a well-
tuned car and know
He Pulls Up
Not quite scraping the curb.
The window lowers, and I wait,
expecting a hot wave of anger.
Instead his eyes sweep over
my body, assessing. He catches
something he doesn’t like.
Much better, except for your
hair. Take them out.
Take what out? Oh, the braids.
I do as instructed. Wait again.
That will do. Now get in. Why
didn’t you wait for me?
“You were still on the phone.
I thought I could catch the bus.”
I settle into the plush warmed
leather, unworthy of its comfort.
You know I hate disobedience.
I hope it won’t happen again.
“I’m sorry, Daddy. I was just
trying to save you the trouble….”
His head snaps in my direction,
and his hand flashes toward me.
It takes all my willpower not
to flinch, not to bloat his anger.
His fingers catch my cheeks,
pinch until my mouth opens.
I’ll decide what is or isn’t trouble.
You just follow orders. Understand?
Drool dripping from my open
mouth, all I can do is nod.
His hand falls away from my face,
and stress falls away from his.
That’s my girl. You’re the one
person in the world I can count on.
He pulls carefully away
from the curb, turn signal
doing its obligatory thing.
To the casual observer,
we are quite a picture.
Judge Gardella, dashing
in tailored navy blue,
and his teenage daughter,
in pink angora. But what’s
underneath that sweater
is the antithesis of normality,
however that word
And hey, when it comes
to abnormal, I can only
the man driving the car. What
would the neighbors think if they
could look through our windows,
beyond the closed curtains, and see
School Drags Today
Not that it’s ever exactly exciting,
with the possible exception
of Lawler’s history class.
it’s terribly warped of me
to spend an entire block
thinking about what’s tucked
behind the man’s zipper. Oh yeah,
damn sick, okay. But at least
I’m not bored. Right now I’m
in English, trying to figure
out how the word “faggot”
other than by a homophobe.
We have to do a paper about
how English has been bastardized
popular culture. But, much
like Kaeleigh’s door, the cover
of a dictionary is not particularly
something I want to open to see
I’m Trying to Avoid
Exactly that when Shelby
taps my shoulder. Look.
Outside, clearly framed
by the window glass,
my best and dearest friend
Madison sidles up to Ian.
A deep shade of anger
blossoms beneath my skin.
Screwing around with Mick—
and so me—is one thing.
Messing with Ian is something
else, something unforgivable.
I can’t believe I’m standing
up for Kaeleigh, but I so am.
I raise my hand. “Excuse me,
Mrs. Finch, but I feel sick.
May I go to the rest room?”
Clearly unwilling to invite
diarrhea or vomit, she waves
me out the door.
I Have No Real Right
To play stand-in for Kaeleigh, but
she wouldn’t have the nerve to do
what needs to be done anyway.
Sorry, twin o’ mine, but it’s true.
I watch from a short distance
for a minute or two, trying to size
up the situation, head to toe. Or
maybe boob to chest is more apt.
Not a millimeter separates Ian’s
T-shirt from Madison’s blouse.
In his defense, I will say Ian looks
As I start toward them, he sees
me, and his demeanor shifts
from complacency to sheer panic.
Oh darlin’, you just wait.
At the terrified look in his eyes,
Madison turns to face me. Smiles.
Oh, girl. That is so not the way
to deal with this. I’m ready to rock.
But since I’m supposed to be
Kaeleigh, I’ll notch it back
to something more like passive.
At least for the moment.
As I Move Closer
The tenor of the scene changes
yet again. Madison remains
possessive, of course. It’s Ian
whose body language alters.
I had expected contriteness.
Instead he seems unmovable,
despite the certain emotion
betrayed by his eyes: hurt.
Okay, what did that bitch tell
him? All thoughts of Kaeleigh
tossed aside, I move faster toward
the two of them. With
obvious intent. Madison’s smile
falls from her face and I know
she has read the message in
my eyes: Get the fuck
away from him! She does, too.
But not far. She’s a total player,
and all in all, a worthy opponent.
Oh, hey. Hope you don’t mind
my borrowing Ian’s ear. I was
just asking him to vote for me
for junior class president.
OMG! She’s got to be joking.
“Oh, really? Brave of you to
run…” I leave the obvious
message hanging. Think better
about letting her off so easy.
“I’m sure Ian is smart enough
to vote for the best candidate,
though.” Then I move between
them, turn to face Ian’s sad eyes.
“May I talk to you for a minute?”
His response is unexpected.
He levels me with his dark
gaze. Not right now. I’m late
for an appointment with my
guidance counselor. Later.
Madison and I standing here
together. We both stare
after him, nothing left to say
to each other. We both know
exactly what the other thinks.
Maybe That Wasn’t
Such a good move. Then again,
maybe it was. Hopefully I at least
managed some sort of damage
control. Then again, maybe not.
I wonder what she said to Ian.
Well, it still isn’t really my business.
And right now my mind is wrapped
around Mick, who’s supposed to pick
me up during third block. Spanish.
Uh-huh, I’m ditching. Oh, well.
I stand on the side of the gym,
where hopefully no teachers will
notice me, waiting to do one
more wrong thing. Okay, several
wrong things, all at once.
I can’t help but think about Ian,
and I can’t help but wonder
what I can do to shut Madison’s
big mouth once and for all.
It’s a quandary, needing a fix.
Maybe getting my head will
fix it. I sometimes believe I think
best when I’m the most loaded.
Probably just wishful thinking.
But hey, here comes my ride.
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