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"Same As I Don't, or, Nature's Patterns of Three," short story excerpt

Thursday 8/25/22

So Jelly

"I'm so jelly," one girl said to another girl, by which she meant jealous, and not jelly jelly, like the peanut butter and jelly they used to eat on playdates when they were kids. They were still kids, but not that way.

She wanted to say, "You know what I mean," but she didn't have anyone to say it to who she thought really would know what she meant. She never did anymore.

The other girl was going out with a boy the first girl liked. He seemed honorable. That was important to the first girl. There could be something he was really looking forward to doing, but he wouldn't do it if it wasn't right.

Her friend felt like saying, "shut your ugly mouth” and laying into that word “ugly,” stretching it, holding the note as if it came out of some super saxophone. She was just so tired of her.

She'd never grow up. Every conversation was like having to humor someone just because of your history together or else you’d get in trouble. They weren't even real conversations. They were more like call-and-response. Draining suckage.

"Yeah, I'm pretty excited," the girl who had the big date that night said.

"You'll tell me all about it?" her friend asked, fighting as hard as she could—like she was waving a fist at her tongue—not to add a "right" to the end.

"Of course I will," the other girl answered.

Sheet Study

A girl went into her brother’s room to study his sheets. They were blue sheets with semen on them. The patterns looked like parts of paintings or images from under a microscope. She thought of that interactive Van Gogh exhibit she went to with the rest of her eighth grade class. She loved it, but had spoken too soon before she made sure what others thought.

This one girl who she wanted to like her, who was really smart, and lived in this huge house, said it wasn't a real exhibit because it was tacky, and Van Gogh himself would never have approved.

“He’d have been disgusted,” she added, and she said it like she’d talked to Van Gogh and gotten his response firsthand.

The girl touched the globular shapes and the extending, urgent tendrils with the part of her finger tip that she figured was the most sensitive, because she hated to be pricked for blood there at the doctor. The patterns could have been made from chalk, but she knew they weren’t and contained chalk the least of all things.

She brought her head closer and closer to the middle portion of the sheet that lay crumpled, but almost animate, in her hands, this bundle, as though it were a tissue into which she was about to sneeze.

Then she allowed it to fall to the bed again and pulled her tongue back into her mouth, closing her lips.

The house was empty and her feet were cold, but she didn’t feel like going back into her room to get socks so she went downstairs and poured herself a glass of some of the lemon water in the fridge, thinking how the fraying strands of the sodden fruit looked a little like the sea monkeys she used to grow as a kid.

Tomorrow she'd try it, she really would, she told herself, the same as she had the day before. No one had ever done what she’d almost done, she thought, and there had been so many people who had lived.

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