Stories

what if the girl from The Ring was blonde? – Elizabeth Burch-Hudson

CHEERLEADER

 

Coach told me I looked better thin, and I thought so too, even though I still wasn’t very fast. Coach said every time she hit the track, she’d hang her problems on a tree, leave them to wave in the breeze while she ran. I imagined unzipping my skin to hang on the empty spring branches. I imagined running fast.

Here lies the unmarked graves of Black Civil War soldiers. Our field trips are all the same, our history books don’t know much about what happened—don’t know much about the AIDS epidemic either, save what fits in a 4”x4” box. I couldn’t fit in a 4”x4” box, with or without my skin, no matter how much I whittled away. I think a lot about legacy. I think a lot about disappearing.

Everyone’s doing heroin, or has already done it, even still, when a kid is found at the bottom of the quarry. I don’t know Death too well, not yet. But I can hear him, he’s tailing me, he’s trying to tell me something I don’t want to hear. He wants to look me in the eyes, and I know they’ll look just like mine, like the impossible eye of an impossible needle. He wants to warn me. I don’t listen. I turn up the radio and carve my headlights through the cave state, I let the roads transform into hail Mary’s. Hail the ghost of the most recently deceased, and I swear the dead keep getting younger.

Eden can’t know my friend Pat is packing. Eden’s from Orange County, not the Ozarks. Eden’s from the place people run to, and I’m from the place they run from. She grew up with Marissa Cooper and her oceanside anorexia, I grew up with tornado warnings and wondering if there was K in my weed or if I was old enough to end up at the bottom of the quarry. If your friends jumped off a cliff, would you? That all depends. Where’s the cliff? Is it somewhere in the Midwest?

Representation matters, so the gays always die, the meth trailer always explodes, and the nudes always leak. Boy at school gets charged with distribution of child porn, even though it was just his girlfriend. Kids turn tricks next to Wendy’s and the Dillard’s I used to shoplift from. Remember the Catholic school and how the girls did anal to please their God. Our Father, Who Art In Heaven. Our Grandfather, Who Was An Anti-Semitic Alcoholic. Sunday School is a vapor of a memory, and it smells like apple juice and animal crackers. Never thought God would taste this sweet.

Limo drove us around the four blocks of downtown to promote the local strip club. We’d sneak out of the house and climb in just to ride around to nowhere and back. We needed to feel like we were going somewhere. Cool kids go to Christian camp to have sex, but my parents don’t let me go. They say Christian camp Jesus isn’t a loving one. Forever trying my own dollar store stigmata, to bloodlet a prophecy from deep in my chest. I’m a cat with too many lives, in a town where all good dogs go to Heaven. Like it or not, I was born to survive.

Eventually I’m asked to leave the Halloween party by a cheerleader, and I’m dressed like Walter White. Is it because I came to the party as a man and not a slut? They say, “you haven’t paid your dues,” and all I can think of is unprotected blowjobs in trucks with muddy tires while my eyes were all black, like a devil’s. Can you taste the difference between moonshine and Everclear? Not store-bought, but shoplifted, then swallowed all the same. Can you taste what’s queer?

As soon as I move to LA, boys and girls in my town admit to wanting to bone me. No one asks me to pay my dues, they just ask if I wanna read their script. Big city, no pity, just Scientology. I’m ready to worship whatever false idols, I’m ready to be a big, big stah. But I’d trade my soul for anonymity in a 24-hour Walgreens or the Sonic Drive Thru line, to get lost and wait for the limo to come pick me up. I’m in no rush. I’ve got nowhere to go.

“Daddy,” she calls me, loud and true – I’ve always wanted to fuck a cheer captain. In high school, I wasn’t allowed. A kid at an art museum, forbidden to touch. What happens when you get too close? What happens when you break the glass?

Ever wonder who I would be had I stayed in Tornado Alley. Dead, knocked up, or worse (married). In that town, I was destined to be a ghost story. In that town, I woulda lived forever hushed on their tongues.

Really grateful for my perspective and that my parents had me baptized, just in case, just to make their parents happy. Your father, he’s a believer. His brothers, they’re all dead. You, you’re just an atheist with OCD. You count yourself lucky to be alive, but it’s not luck, it’s providence and a stomach pump. It’s that clergywoman who found you locked in the back of a car, choking on your own vomit. Never have I ever learned my lesson, never have I ever stopped praying.

 

LANA DEL REY

 

Lied about my age and they called me jailbait, now I do it and they just call me a liar.
Asshole tastes like Diet Mountain Dew, pussy tastes like Waffle House at midnight.
National anthem is just the suicide hotline or the tweets of some bro who peaked in high school and touched me like sandpaper against the grain.
Amber alerts used to be such celebrities, now they’re just loud and annoying, a symphony of distraction in the supermarket.

Disney stars to A24 pipeline, don’t call it a homecoming if it was never my home.
Elvis died on the toilet so that Riley Keough could be nominated for a Golden Globe, my great grandfather died so that I could go to pelvic PT.
Lesbian porn doesn’t get me off anymore, now I just pretend someone loves me, turns out high school never ends.

Really painful to have a plastic speculum searching inside me for my yeast infection, it’s like my pussy’s been clenched since 10,000 B.C.
Everyone around me is dressing more sensible, but every year, I just get sluttier, kinda like the Pope.
Youth was all nudes on Tumblr, funeral blacks and razor blades, tequila snuck into slurpees, “Hey Misters,” and college boys’ fingers. Growing up is all broken laptop keys over broken hymens, staying home and staying hydrated, and flossing even when my teeth bleed. But sometimes, I can still taste burnt rubber on my tongue. And sometimes I wonder, what if the girl from The Ring was blonde?