Ma kicked me to the curb on July 11, so I threw a fit and made Lego piss and shit all over the front porch for a week. I knew all the right timings 'cuz she's at the boutique eight-thousand-seven-hundred hours of the year, save sixty for our Sunday brunches until she saw my stigma* dangling around in a sparkling halter dress borrowed from her closet.
"You can come back when Anthony beats the pansy out of you," she said, Staten Island tongue liquored up all heavy.
Go to your most brainwashed rich uncles' and become an Alpha-Male, she said. I'd never seen her that angry. Or jealous? Sober all her hag life and a cute little dress pushes her off the edge?
So, I trashed her fancy boutique and moved to Juhi's, the cool hippie auntie that took a trip somewhere sometime and came back with it in her pocket. She laughs loud and ugly like she knows a secret when I ask her why there's trees and mini-waterfalls inside her house. What do you get if Goldilocks did LSD and beat three grizzly bears to death?
"What do ya think, Donny? Just like Chronicles of Hernia, ha?" Rotten Island** licks me in the face like a deplorable wet kiss. I need to escape home.
I search for an appropriate room isolated from the Great Indoors to conduct my leeching.
Juhi says she doesn't hear me writhing in pain at dawn.
My skin has been stretching out. I am pink and purple and yellow and Dazai's quivering petal in the slightest breeze. Every accidental reflection makes me think of dying. But there's solace in that I don't carve or burn or tear or pluck my petals anymore. Juhi said there is nothing to hide at home.
We were watching ma cutting ribbons around the country on the TV. The shiny gold interiors of the new boutiques are lined with big pots of lilies, looking sardonic, criminal, pointed. I snorted from my little pigsty.
"Mommy's doing good, ha, Donny?" I flick a bee off my shoulder.
"She could make a sugar sweet train for the meanest wench out there," Stifle a sniffle. Just not for me.
Juhi sighs like she's heard my secret.
Sunlight, water, air, nutrients. I crawl into a closet. Circumvent every confrontational ray and stream. I'm not your man! I threw a coin in the perpetual waterfall and made a wish I didn't believe in. The blue sky is expansive above me, but I hold my breath, blink away the dew. I remember that bees are dying rapidly.
I bought a dog jacket because there is always rain in the Great Indoors.
Lego moved in two nights ago 'cos ma's sixty open hours are now occupied by flights in and out LAX. He looks right at home, half pig half bull, sans French, zero dog. He's obsessed with sitting in the waterfall then he tracks water around the house.
"Oh, you have somewhere to be? Tap dancing around the place like a damn nut!"
Juhi and I take turns mopping.
We frequent the dog park now, where she gets into screaming matches and I meet those mirroring my ostensible incongruity. We talk of home; loss, pursuit, defining, defiling, accepting. I learn to distinguish petrichor from trash. "If Wu Tang could make it, why won't weeee?" I had forgotten how the Island birds sing. The real ones, wings and all, couldn't compare.
They adore my skin growing in, it's so you, so Camp, the dolls say.
"And what if I'm hideous?"
"Your relationship to the world is not merely one of landscaping,"
I feel every tendril in my being ignite. I grow from a strange fungus on a rotting bench. Lego tugs at his leash like he's learned a secret.
Ma sends me flowers and a suit for my 18th birthday. It's a comical performance. She left a note to her son she would always love, one that never lived. I leave them outside the house. There's no competition with my sprawling Narnia. They don't protest.
I tread across a gentle garden, the one that swallowed me whole, absorbed my spite. Earlier rainfall drips off the foliage, collecting into my petals, pooling at my feet then dissolving promptly. My knees touch translucent grass as I bend down to plant new poppies. If you listen closely, you can hear the earth expand and heave deep slumberous breaths. Needy blades reach out and wrap around my wrist. I dust my hands and lie down under a willow tree, as if comforting an old friend in a dream.
Later, we get ready for the fancy obligatory extended family dinner. I do the finishing stitches on my dress. Juhi and I are watching ma's new show. I feel sorry for all the dresses she could never make for me.
*the sticky bulb that you see in the centre of flowers where the pollen lands and starts fertilization
**wordplay on Staten Island ("the trash borough of New York")
Author, Anne Vaka is a 19-year-old freelance writer and first-year undergraduate college student. You can contact her at [email protected]. This story is part of a collection produced through by Mayflowers Writing Workshop run by author Shazia Omar. To join the next session, please email [email protected].