when i was thirteen, my sister brought home a pair of red heels.
i sat on her carpet floor and paid rapt attention as she told me in whispers about parties and the stash of E, emeralds under her mattress and how maybe when i grew up, i could be like her too. she painted her toes ruby red and all i thought about was those heels. whenever i asked if i could try them on, she always said no.
my sister went out late a lot of the time, ignoring my aunt em’s strict rules and curfews. i sat on the stoop with toto and a paperback. i waited for her to come home, sometimes drunk, sometimes dead-eyed, like she’d just seen something she wished she hadn’t.
some nights it got so dark the moon didn’t shine bright enough for me to read and moths gathered around the porch light. those were the nights she climbed into my bed after she came home. she would whisper in my ear all about dead witches and magic and clutched my wrist tight until she fell asleep next to me.
she was mean sometimes, too.
“you’re just a stupid pussy, aren’t you. you’re such a good little girl, watching stupid sitcoms with auntie em and petting your little dog over and over, every fucking night. you could be living.”
i thought her heart was made of tin, but i never told her that.
when i was fourteen, my sister smiled with tinman teeth and made me live.
“come on dor, it’s just a shot. you won’t even get drunk and if you do, i’ll be here with you.”
when i sipped, it was acid in my throat. and when i drank, it was lying in a field of pink flowers, staring at the quivering sky of my sister’s bedroom ceiling.
soon we were doing worse.
glinda told me that his name was the wizard and that he sold only the finest E, dubbed emeralds. he was having a party, she said, red lips tilted up in a grin, and we were invited.
“well, i was invited. i’m just bringing you along.”
she dug out a filmy blue dress from the back of her closet and slipped me into it, purring that i looked just like she used to,when she was a kid. i looked at my sister in her glitter and clouds of pink lace and those red high heels and i knew, i knew that i would never look like her.
when we got to the party, she swallowed something small and sweet and i could already see the gems in her eyes. she smiled too big for her face and told me to go have fun.
it didn’t take long for someone to offer me a pill of my own, and the last thing i remember before a tornado burst through my head and i was somewhere over the rainbow, was a boy whispering in my ear: “follow the yellow brick road.”
toto wasn’t here, and i knew we weren’t in kansas anymore.
collab with the wonderful rippedfishnets.