Night fell and we would shed our scholar, dancer, musician, athlete skins and slither to whatever rave was being held that night at whatever club we could get into with our cheap fake I.Ds. We would drink a bit on the way there, beer or whiskey or rum or anything we could get our hands on, just until our eyes were glassy and everything seemed hilarious.
We would dance so close, you’d have thought we were melded together, people we barely knew became our best friends, the music so loud our eardrums popped and our hearts pounded in sync, but that was okay because there were no consequences to anything, to lighting another blunt, to staying out until 3 or 4 in the morning, to hooking up in a bathroom or a closet or Jessica Mendels’ parents’ bedroom.
We were magic. Nothing could touch us, nothing could hurt us. We were made of titanium, so divorces and dance teachers who expected the impossible and tired fingers that couldn’t move fast enough over the strings and mothers who spent her nights mourning, didn’t exist. Those thoughts were plunged far back into your mind, where yellow-white lines of crank and the half-empty bottle of Jack Daniels could make you forget.
Not that we did the crank, of course. Meth wasn’t for us; we had tried it a few times, inhaling the powdery crystals, allowing them to dance up our nose and make us fly. We stopped because the crash was the worst feeling in the universe and because we were afraid of crank, afraid of shooting so high we might never come down.
We preferred pot, loved the way it made our hearts beat faster but slower, how everything seemed quiet but so loud, how it made us feel so alive, how the smoke mixed with beer and sweat and perfume and lip stick was the best thing in the world and no one ever wanted it to end.
But when it did, we would slip back into our windows, wash off the remnants of the night and put back our masks for the next day, so when we woke, exhausted and hungry, and our mothers asked how we slept, we could say it was the best we ever had.
Of course, the magic wears off and the titanium rusts because sometimes it wasn’t enough and we would puke in the bushes, or spend the night sobbing into our knees or drink a little too much, smoke a little too much and lose control.
She was thin and delicate, like any butterfly should be.
When she opened her wings, they were eager to rip them off, to pin her down with their corkboard glares, robbing her of the right to fly. They found fault in everything, pounds of imperfection; they picked her clean until she was a skeleton, vultures stealing cartilage and marrow with just stares. And slowly, the idea of flesh began to scare her.
After that, it was easier to put on a Chesire Cat smile with tiny porcelain teeth and politely accept the nectar, to allow it to disgustingly churn down her throat and bubble up under her skin. Later, once the vultures with hungry eyes were gone, she would empty it from her body, expelling ugliness with a scarred finger and a single heave. It was easier to pretend the sour acid that shot up her throat didn’t exist, even though it burned the soft tissue of her mouth and rot her teeth from the inside out. Her attention was sharper with pain and soon, she stopped getting headaches at 10am, 2pm and 7pm respectively.
It came to be that it didn’t matter. She was pinned, dead to the world. Mold grew on her bones but onstage- in the light- she looked like she was still flying. She would wear a mannequin smile, with dainty, jutting hips and a sharp collarbone, skin stretched taut over wooden bones. Lies were told, yes, i’ve had lunch. no i would not like a piece of cake thank you excuse me i need to use the bathroom but for some reason, Pinocchio’s nose never grew. It’s said that puppets have no mind of their own, but she was learning to see through her strings.
The mirrors were critics, too. Her eyes were once blue, flecked with stardust, but now they seemed empty: they longed for more than the universe could ever give them. As she stared, her reflection became something new. What once had wings was skin and bones; what once danced on the verge of perfection was finite. What was left was no longer beautiful. She was determined though, and reflections were nothing more than shining glass.
sometimes though, she would get so god damn hungry and she would cry because she couldn’t eat she just couldn’t if he was ever going to love her because she’d get fat and he would say with broken glass eyes : i don’t love you the way you want me to and she, a fragile wingless butterfly, would die all over again and she’d ache to be prettythinstrong;
She was beyond living, beyond striving for anything but perfection.
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