I could tell you the story in person but even if I did, you probably wouldn’t believe me. The English language has a gazillion words, a bazillion adjectives and adverbs but even if I put all of them together, it wouldn’t even come close to describing what really happened. I’m trying of course and that’s the whole point of this thing. I may not have a diverse vocabulary and I’ve been told I curse too much but if there’s something you must know about me, I try and fuck do I try hard.
I remember the first time I saw Kim. She sat beside me in third period and I remember how she smelled just like vanilla. We all wore the same blue jumper dress hybrid to school but she somehow managed to look leagues better than the rest of us. Her tits looked perky no matter what she wore and when she laughed, it seemed like the world was in sweet slow motion. I wanted her badly, so much that I began to resent her. How could someone have it so easy? How could something so beautiful ever be genuine?
I’d go through phases where I’d despise her and then it would feel like I loved her so much I wanted to cry. I’d sketch her endlessly at the back of various notebooks. One day, one of her friends saw what I was doodling and she immediately recognized who it was. Dike!!! she yelled and suddenly the whole school had their eyes on me. She held my drawing up for everyone to see. I wanted to plant a fist in the middle of her made-up face but the desire for the ground to swallow me was stronger. Cheeks flushed, I swept all my things into my backpack and prepared to make a run for it. I had my eyes on the linoleoum. I didn’t want them to see I was crying. I wasn’t gonna give them the fucking distinction. I moved quickly, my drawings a little messy in my arms. I barely had any time to notice the chair that was in my way. With a loud thud, I fell to the floor. My sketches flew up in the air and this only fueled the assholes more. They took some loose ones and in the chorus of oohs, aahs and off-key Indigo Girls renditions, there was Kim holding one of my more recent drawings.
“Is this me?” she asked, a smile on her face. I nodded. Her eyes stayed locked on the frail sheet of paper. When I came to, I grabbed what I could and ran home.
Mother was in the living room when I arrived. She immediately noticed something was wrong with me. She kept asking me what was up and why I was home early. I locked myself in my room and started playing loud music. No one would get it. Not even her. I was mortified. That much was true. But there was also a part of me that was ecstatic that we spoke. It was like fire and ice, heaven and hell, and I’d do it all again if that meant looking into her eyes as she spoke to me.
“Sweetie, what’s wrong? Open the door,” Mom yelled. I continued to ignore her. When I heard the jingling of the keys, I leapt from my seat to block the door.
“What the fuck, mom? Get out!” I yelled.
“What are you doing in there? Did something happen in school?”
“Nothing, mom. Leave me alone!” A few seconds passed and I could still hear her breathing from behind the door.
“I worry about you sometimes,” she began. “You were always such a sweet girl. I don’t know what happened to my sweet little girl.”
I cradled my head in my hands and started crying. I wanted to know the same thing, too. Whatever happened to my mother’s sweet little girl? She sure isn’t here.
I couldn’t sleep that night. Aside from that thing with mom, I kept thinking about those few seconds I got to spend with Kim. I booted my computer and started opening her Facebook page. I couldn’t be with her but for these few minutes online, I felt like a part of her was with me. I guess this is the part where it starts to get weird. At the bottom right of one of her album’s pages was an ad for love potions. I don’t remember what came over me but within seconds, I was browsing their page. A few minutes later, I was ordering shit from them using my mom’s credit card.
They call it a startup kit. You don’t really need to be a genius to put it together. There was a metal kettle thing that attached to a tealight assembly. There were packages that I should only open once the “ceremony” starts. It had fucked up contents too. One had full moon dew, another had crushed bird bones and there was one that looked like that jelly thing they put in orchids. I wasn’t sure if it was legit but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try.
It’s all based on this legend of a woman who married into royalty. She took the bones of the winged and brought it to life with the dew of the first full moon. She drew first blood and cleansed it under blessed flame. When all was done, she stirred it into the tears of the innocent and she became irresistible to him. Irresistible. I’d give anything to be irresistible. There was just one thing that stood in the way. I didn’t have Kim’s blood.
We shared a class on Tuesday mornings. That was surely the way to get her blood but what could I do to get a sample without causing unwanted attention. I don’t think the class would react well if I suddenly cut the prom queen in broad daylight. I was thinking of other options when a conversation from two rows behind me caught my attention. They were talking about Kim, about the stain of blood that was forming on her dress. Somebody told her about it. She looked embarrassed and excused herself from the teacher. I took it as my cue.
I followed her into the restroom. We sat in adjacent stalls. I was as quiet as a mouse as I listened for footsteps in the hall. When she’d changed, she washed her hands and left. I quickly crept into the next stall and retrieved the tampon from the waste bin. I put it in a ziplock and went back to class. The rest of the day felt like honey dripping slowly. I couldn’t wait to get home. I could almost hear her heart beating from the tampon in my bag. I was gonna be irresistible to her. It was only a matter of time.
That night, I put all of the ingredients together. You start with the jelly thing. I think it’s meant to put the whole thing together. Next would be the bird bones. They intentionally left some bigger chunks because some of it had to be freshly crushed. I started pounding it with a history textbook and I emptied the sachet’s contents onto the jelly. I lit the tealight and the gunk started melting into this green ooze. I took some vapor rub and put it under my eyes so I’d start crying. That hurt like a motherfucker. I cried into the metal container and I mixed it with the moon dew thing. Finally, I took the tampon from my backpack. I know it’s not the best blood source but it was all I could get. It was already getting a little dry but I managed to squeeze a few drops into the receptacle. It started emitting this strange odor. I’m not exactly sure what happened next. I woke up the next day on my bedroom floor with blood in my hands.
School passed without much incident. I saw Kim a few times but she barely even looked at me. I did not become irresistible, that was apparent. The whole thing was just some elaborate hoax, I guess aimed at pathetic teenagers like me. I needed to be alone so I sat at the chapel steps when everyone left. I thought about the past few days, the bloody tampon I treasured like an idiot, the pungent smell that came over me last night, the gloomy weather that followed me around all day. I was mulling over these things when I heard a familiar voice.
“Dike.” What a hateful word. It was that cunt from the cafeteria. She was walking with Kim to the parking lot. “Look, there’s that dike who’s got it in for you.”
The next few seconds buzzed by so quickly, I needed time to wrap my head around it. Kim slapped her friend for calling me a dike. She told her to walk home and that she didn’t want to be friends with bullies. Her friend looked horrified, half from the slap, half from the humiliation. Bitch, she muttered as she walked away. I watched all this from the background wondering what Kim’s game was. Could I have been mistaken? Did the potion work after all?
“Sorry about that,” she said. “Teenagers. We’re such idiots.”
“You’re not. You shouldn’t have to be. Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise.” I smiled at her and for the first time in years, my smile felt real and shit.
“You’re Lisa, right? We have math together on Tuesdays.”
“Yes. And you’re Kim.”
“Well Lisa, would you like me to bring you home? My car’s just over there.” It was getting dark but her powder blue Volks somehow managed to glow from a few feet away.
We were quiet on our way home. She had a Cranberries record playing on her stereo. A Carpenters cover came up and it just felt right to sing along. That’s how we passed the time. We strangely both knew the lyrics by heart. I didn’t want that moment to end but as she pulled up to my curb, I knew the night was coming to a close.
“So, I’ll see you at school tomorrow,” she said. Her eyes looked huge and I felt weak. “And if you ever tell anyone about our Carpenters thing, I’m gonna kill you.” She chuckled and it felt like my heart was gonna burst.
I somehow knew even before all this, from the minute I woke up with the bloody tampon in my hand, I knew things were gonna be different. I looked the same, smelled the same, spoke the same but something inside me was different. Even mother noticed. She gave me a kiss when I came in and just for the heck of it, I let her awkwardly hug me.
“There’s my little girl,” she said, muffled from our embrace. “I knew she was in there somewhere.”
I smiled. In my head, I could hear Kim’s sweet voice singing. I felt wet just thinking about it.
“A mother’s job is to worry,” she said when we broke our embrace. She had her eyes fixed on one of the lamps. “Remember that night we were driving home from the hospital when that doctor said you weren’t gonna get any better and you jumped out of the car and started running? I ran so hard that day looking for you, screaming your name, asking you to come home.”
I looked at her, surprised at how frank she was being, at how casually she brought it up. “Well sweetie, most days, it feels like we’re still running.”
“I don’t think you have to worry about me anymore,” I said. She looked up from where she sat and wiped tears with the back of her hand. I thought of Kim. The way she stood up for me, the way her eyes looked when she brought me home, even the way she said goodbye to me like she was trying to be tough and stuff.
“You don’t need to worry anymore because I think I just made a friend.” Mom hugged me once more, this time a little tighter and I knew that from then on, the days were going to be much easier.
♫: The Cranberries | (They Long to Be) Close to You (1994)
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