Jennifer M. Pierson
She will be jammed up against the cold tile wall, pushed, again and again, around the narrow arc of the sullen girls' bathroom that has fallen into a gray state of disrepair, that magic room that is inside this old and used-up building of a school. There will be girls waiting for her to come on in, large and grumbling girls with bugged up eyes and large fierce fingernails. Maybe they will slap her around, tear off parts of her clothing and pronounce her terrified with their cockiness, for they are very cool.
She wants to be that wise, that smart, so sure of herself that she retires from school at an early age to stand in a stalking mode behind the tight door of a schoolgirls' bathroom and there discover the power she can claim from her victims' eyes. This power will rise up inside of her. Fill her full of prolonging joy. This she wants so badly she could cry. Victim or stalker, it doesn't really matter.
She is fat, all right. Soft and padded and pink as an uncooked chicken. She is all eyes in the center of puff. Watchful eyes, waiting for the exact right moment to raise her hand high, get permission to leave the room. She raises her hand she is triumphant.
The corridor is empty. A long and yellowish light flares from the farther end where the large doors lead to the outside. The circumference of her world ends here. She begins to walk with duck feet, small bones etched outward across the surrounding gray, down this vacuum of a hall that sucks her in. The light glazes the dark wooden frames of the long walls and inches up her hands. Row after row of mottled glass doors lead into other rooms. A smell like pitch pine tar creaks up from the corners where the buffer man's machine has flattened the coats of wax onto the vinyl floor. This, she says, is a good smell.
She is sassy. She is proud. She has waited out the first days of a new school to do this, and she is howling for success. Depress the books, make no notches on the white and lined sheets. Class is a waste. It is useless for her to try to focus on perfection, no one in the world is alert to her mind.
School after school, and this new and pampered man is asleep at his teaching. He carries pale blue tissues, folded carefully into his pants' left pocket. He unfolds them whenever his nose is runny. Look at his delicate fingers! His glasses are foggy.
He was weak when her mother enticed him to carve his thin finger onto her slim, lined skirt, first day of introductions. Silly when he let her settle into the nearest chair, draw him in, drain him away from this child who is lining the walls of the magical house of unexpected vision.
Her mother is a hornet driven from its nest to sting and sting weak men. This one has been stung. He is useless now, useless and absent from her world. There is no one she can sing praises to, nothing meaningful to commit to memory in his class that is decades behind her. He has been taken by the sting of her mother but it is not wise to say she is found without challenge.
The corridor looms in front of her like a gift wrapped and waiting to be exposed. She knows she is nearing the articulation of fingers upon her hair, tough girl fingers stroking the softness of her hair down to her chunky shoulders. Fingers grabbing at her arms with a joyous vigor and shaking and demanding, demanding that she cry out with her own accumulated harmony of pain. They'll want to hear her scream.
She is confident, so hard on her feet running to this cleansing altar. She swings open wide the door with its brass guard, its frosted glass, the weak sound of its throat of springs swaying on its heavy oak frame as it swings into the precipice of a sink and the two large girls that are waiting for her. This is her benediction.
"Bitch, fat girl, stupid thing." Lovely, skirt crumbling under the weight of their thumping legs and the taste of iron, that metal-thin taste, filling up her mouth as they smack her. The way her mother claims to strangers she never smacks her. The comforting knowness of hands lashed to her throat, pressing to extract the truth from her mouth.
"Fatty, fatty, what size you wear, I'm gonna tear out your dress and see what size you are."
Ah, journeying down the long rows of tiles, back turned and then facing again those shining wild faces. So familiar, so much of this like home. Comfort. The weather vane of her learning, this kissing of their silly power to her embracing lips. The humiliation of her slushy body.