Home > 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl(8)

13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl(8)
Mona Awad

The man looks down at the fat girl like she’s an oracle. “What? Like, raw or . . . ?”

“Ethereal,” she says at last. “Incandescent.”

“Whoa. Really? You think so?”

“I know so.”

“Rad. I really don’t know what I’d do without your support, Eleanor.”

“Elizabeth. But most people call me Lizzie.”

“Right. You get it.”

The fat girl, your fat girl, is blushing. “Oh my god, anytime, seriously.”

You watch this fucker help himself to Banana-Rama bread. He doesn’t even use a napkin.

“Would you like to hear this poem I wrote?” she asks him. “I think it goes with your music pretty well.” You see her reach toward her faery journal, which is sitting on the armrest of the couch, at the ready.

“Sure. But hey, can I play you some new stuff I’ve been tinkering with first?”

“Of course,” she says. She leans back, closes her eyes once more. And the man resumes playing. Terrible broken chords that ring in your ears long after you’ve stumbled out of her mother’s flowers and found your way home.

Full Body

We’re skipping Individual and Society so China can show me how to do her smoky eyes. We should be sitting kitty-corner from one another, watching sweat stains darken Batstone’s armpits as he explains to us The Difference Between Charity and Grass Roots Change. Instead, we’re in the stoner girls’ bathroom, the farthest stall from the door. I’m sitting on the lid of a nonworking toilet, and China’s pushed the curtain of hair from my face. My eyes are closed and my head’s tilted up toward her like she’s the sun as she stabs onto my closed lids—clenched tight and fluttery like a wishing child’s—her own personal mixture of agate, slate, and bone. There’s the cigarette and pot stink of the girls’ bathroom, my back pressed hard against the cold silver flush. There’s China hunched over me, smelling like some musk from a Wicca shop on Queen West that isn’t even open anymore.

China’s like, “Relax your lids a little, Lizzie,” but it’s hard because this is China, and the fact of her straddling me on the toilet giving me her smoky eyes is for me a cosmic event. Two minutes ago, I was standing outside Batstone’s class, looking at her like she was on the opposite side of the world even though we’ve been hanging out more lately. How do you get your eyes like that? is something I didn’t know I’d said out loud until she looked up and said, I’ll show you.

“How’s that, better?” I ask her and I’m telling my eyelids, Relax, just fucking relax. I tell them, She’s giving you this, her secret to a smoky eye, her secret.

“Yeah, not really.” She pulls her Drink Me flask from her Matrix-y coat pocket and hands it to me. I drink whatever it is and whatever it is burns and she pulls the wand away until I finish coughing.

“Look up?” she says. I look up at the cracks in the ceiling, the dark water stains, as she begins to jab at my lash line. I feel my lids quiver under each stroke and worry she’s going to get pissed at me for this. Instead she goes back to telling me how this guy who’s been psycho over her lately is still being psycho. His name is Warren, but we call him Alaska because China likes to name the guys who stalk her after states.

“He’s still being psycho?”

“Way psycho,” she says, poking at my lids with a rough-haired brush.

“Psycho how?” I ask her, my eyes leaking in their effort to relax. I’m always eager to know how. There was Utah, who kept writing her name in the condensation on the windshield of her dad’s Honda whenever it rained. New Hampshire, who, when he found out that she had Steppenwolf tattooed down her back, sat out on her front lawn all day reading Hesse in the original German. China said by the time she noticed him shivering out there in the snow, he’d gotten frostbite on his left ear. But my favorite was Maine, the medical artist who drew corpses for a living, who kept telling her she was the perfect woman. China kept telling him she wasn’t, she really wasn’t, and he said she was too and so finally she said, Okay, fine, draw me since you’re a medical artist. But show me every flaw, she told him. Like, be precise. So he drew her and when he did China said he had an erection for four hours straight because it turned out she really was the perfect woman.

But all China says this time when I ask her, “Psycho how?” is: “You know when they watch you sleep, it’s like the beginning of the end.”

I nod like I totally know. Like I’ve been there a thousand times.

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