Adored, Or Red

They climb in through her window, or when her parents are gone, they moonwalk and Roger Rabbit through her front door. They want to use toilets, bend swabs into their ears, wrap gauze around their faces and sink like they're punched into the leather of her couch. Punching buttons, opening doors, they ask, How many clocks? How many clocks do your parents need to own? And then they are surprised by how much time has passed since whenever. Since food, since fucking. Since last Saturday in Phoenix, since Sunday supper in the free kitchen, since someone recognized them as familiar.

She is in love with one of them. His friends are like his clothes: smelly, weirdly matted on one side, faded on the other from hanging out too long in sun in one position. She lets them all in when nobody's home. This is after school. During school, she fools everyone. They believe she wants to go to a good college.

Nobody wants us, they tell her. She lets them in, and in further, into her parents' bed, even. She wants the one she's in love with to see her bending forward over the counter in the kitchen, so she says, Let's make a cake!

K, whatever, they say, trailing their ripped pant legs after. They think she is like some Tinsel, an over-sweet drink they had once after an after-party that made everybody feel like they were made of plastic.

The one she is in love with plucks a sun fish from her mom's aquarium and makes its tiny lips move with his fingers, saying with his high-pitched voice pitched higher, I drive a Cadillac. Then he tosses it back in the tank. The fish swims in tighter and tighter circles, then sinks with its belly up.

She says, Doesn't matter, don't worry.

I'm going to major in History, she says when anyone adult asks her. They never ask. Pierced tongues, electrified hair, rangy in their glances, they appear outside her bedroom window and tap two times, three if she's sleeping, and mouth her name, making fog appear in halos around their faces.

Who are you, a new one asks her. She shrugs. She lets him in, lets them all come in. She says a name that hangs around her throat like music, the S the treble clef for ARAH. She still plays the flute in eleventh grade. She's quiet as air rising from a cake. The one she's in love with tells her, Get some balls. Her father is a golfer. Her parents have some money. She wants to hide this but doesn't know where to. She wears gold earrings; they wear safety pins. She shows them his clubs and poses. They seem bored. They pose on the couch in matching slouches.

They watch Mallrats on her mother's rug from India. They ask when her parents will leave the continent again. They put their heads in doors and say, Food, God, I'm hungry.

They are named after cities, after states where they say they came from or were born into: Coma, Tex, Gary, Cincinnati, Weed, Madison.

They ask her, Where were you born?

Money, one says. A kind of island.

Right there, she says, and points to the faint stain beside the love seat.

Love, they call her, What's it like to have money? What's it like to have a mattress, to have a golden name?

The one she's in love with stays late after the others have shuffled across the backyard, away under her old swing set. He writes his name in capitals on her arms in black Sharpie. She met him at her parents' yard sale; he and his friends came and broke an antique clock, said they were looking for cheap vinyl, named specific names she'd never heard off.

Next, she invited them inside.

Next, her parents were leaving on a twenty-day tour of other rich peoples' houses.

Next, the one she's in love with was a week without leaving, stealing from her parents with one hand in her back pocket. She was putting on her mother's lipstick, a color called Adored, Or Red.

Next, he and she were listening to "Modern Love" and fucking on a Persian rug really from Portland.

Next, Turn that fucking thing off, someone said when they got home.

About the author:

Evelyn's writing is forthcoming in Unsaid Magazine and NOÖ Journal and appears recently in SmokeLong Quarterly and Juked. She blogs at Lisp Service. She lives in Seattle.