Home > 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl(6)

13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl(6)
Mona Awad

“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.

“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.

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