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Another scalding bath, radio on the urine-weathered floor playing Bohemian Rhapsody.
I’m standing at a mirror, naked and not yet dry, while someone looks at me while I look at me.
“You like ‘em, huh?” the voice asks. “Queen?”
Today I bit a kid’s ear off during lunch. At recess, I rammed the toe of my boot through another kid’s crotch. I didn’t apologize once.
In the mirror, the looking goes on.
“Yow-wee, that water was so dirty,” the voice says. “Wasn’t it? I’ve never seen anything so filthy.”
I already know every trick, but still I can’t stop my toes from twitching, my skin from prickling.
“In the morning,” the voice says, chin propped upon my clavicle, “that tub’ll need some serious scouring.”
Today I wrote my first poem. It rhymed and was about a girl I thought I liked. When she told me it was actually really shitty, I slapped her so hard her face spun around twice, though this all happened in my head.
“Don’t listen to what anyone tells you,” the voice says. “Dirty like that never gets clean.”
I tally hummingbirds that aren’t there. I calculate their wing speed while the bathroom fan sputters and croaks like a hearse stuck in neutral, telling me everyone’s home who shouldn’t be.
“But I’ll get you clean,” the voice says. “A different kind of clean, know what I mean? I bet you’ll like it.”
Today I heard a man once bounced around the moon, played a round of golf, though I don’t believe that either.
Today I counted to twenty-seven—the exact number of pubic hairs I’ve grown so far.
Today, I stole my brother’s switchblade and hid it in the drawer.
“Give me a smile for once,” the voice says, pressing scalding flint against my spine. “After all, you’re almost pretty when you smile.”
The voice has arms and hands and fingers that drape a towel across my shoulders, cotton catching the blood-stained bathwater as it drips off my cheeks and chin.
“See what I mean?”
“With the towel around you that way,” the voice says, grinning and grinning while appraising me, “You look—what’s the word I’m searching for? Regal. Yeah, that’s it. My god, kid, you look like a queen.”