Home > 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl(9)

13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl(9)
Mona Awad

“Don’t move, you’re fucking it up,” China says, so I stop nodding. I totally freeze.

“That is psycho,” I say softly.

“Yeah, I told him it was over,” she says, pressing a pencil deep into the inner corner of each of my eyes, one and then the other, like I’m being anointed. China’s always telling boys it’s over, and that’s when they go super psycho. That’s the part I love most. That’s what happened with Vermont. The last time she dumped him, he burned all these photos of her and left them smoking in a shoe box at her door. Not the whole photo, China said. Just her face. Her face in every picture. Burned out. Wow, I said. That’s sort of beautiful. And she said, Beautiful? Try insane. And I said, Yeah, that too.

“What did he do when you told him it was over?”

“Cried,” she says. “But what I can’t believe is how much. It was so intense to watch, you know?”

I start to nod, but I catch myself just in time.

“It sounds intense,” I say. I think of how last night Blake cried about how he can’t believe we found each other through an AOL member profile search. He cries about that most nights we talk. That and the beauty of my mind-body-spirit, which, even though I’ve yet to send him a full-body pic, he says he can see clearly with his third eye. I don’t see him cry, of course, but I hear it through the static of his speakerphone.

“I’m seeing this guy on the Internet,” I tell China now. “It’s been pretty intense with him too.”

“Hold still,” she says.

“He really wants a full-body shot of me. He keeps asking and asking for one. Like, every night when we talk. I don’t know what to tell him.”

I watch her grab black liquid liner from her cosmetic bag patterned all over with pinup girls. You wouldn’t believe this liner. It’s blacker than black. No color is black enough for China except for this one kind she says she gets at Target that I can never find. I feel it now as a cold stabby stream across my waterline. Sharp feathery strokes like little knife swipes that make me flinch each time.

“A full-body shot’s no big deal,” she says.

“I guess. Just I haven’t really told him about me, you know?”

“Don’t move.”

“Like, about my weight or anything,” I add, the word weight falling from my mouth like a stone.

“Shut up,” she says.

I shift on the toilet seat, become aware of the taped lid beneath me, the underlying funk of the bathroom, that I’m still flinching even though there is no reason to. When I open one eye, I see China has already drifted away from me and is checking herself out in one of the cracked mirrors above the overflowing sink.

“We’re done?” I ask.


“How does it look? Does it look okay?”

“Go see,” she says, gesturing toward the mirror beside her, but I don’t want to go see. I want to hang on to my idea of what I look like, which is like China. Even though we only started hanging out recently, China tells me all the time that she sees me as like a sister to her and I tell her some people say we even look like sisters. “What people?” China says. I think of the woman who ripped our tickets at the Warhol exhibit. This coat check girl at Death who doesn’t work there anymore. That one waitress in the old lady tearoom we sometimes go to when we skip Lit or Government. That waitress is always asking us, “Are you two sisters?” And China tells her, “No. We’re not. We’re definitely not.” Then she looks at me and says, “You’re beautiful all on your own.” I smile whenever she says this, even though I feel like she’s marooned me on some desert island, taking away with her the only boat. I want to tell her, I don’t want to be beautiful all on my own, I don’t. But I just say nothing. Sometimes I say thanks.

I stare at China from the toilet where I’m still sitting.

“Does it look bad?”

“Oh my god, here,” she says, handing me a small lipstick compact of red silk patterned with dragons.

I look at the one eye I can see in her smudged little rectangular mirror. “Oh my god,” I whisper.


“It looks amazing.”

“Oh, good,” she says, continuing to apply lipstick with the pad of her index finger. “I actually fucked it up a lot because you wouldn’t stop moving.”

I move the mirror around so I can see the other eye, then the other again.

“I can’t believe it.” I look over at her. “Thanks so much for this. Seriously.”

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