super awesome CC
When I had anorexia, I put on fake eyes – eyelash by eyelash –
For a play. The show I was the villain in was Annie, which was the name of my disorder, too.
The makeup artist smiled at me, eyes averted slightly,
Which I took for kindness. She wouldn’t bring up my canaries, bleating against the ribs. Wanting anything & everything. Threatening to push me outwards like a peach, or dive away, opaque.
I studied vocabulary words for high school, as if studying the summer before
9th grade would change everything, just like those eyelashes. As if memorizing the syllables of words, or singing onstage to strangers wouldn't show the baggy costumes, the way they cinched in the fabric; the way I still felt I had a warbling double chin when I sang.
Camels have two rows of eyelashes, each for a different purpose. They have multiple humps that ebb and flow, depending on how much they need nourishment. They walk on scorching sand, but they have coolness in them. They know how to self-soothe, even if they – like me – cannot name the feeling that threatens everything–
I realized, when studying the world in perfectly thinned, lined notecards, that timbre and timber
Were so close & yet, one was that note that you cannot sing, cannot name, that a person who loves you says closely, as a refrain. The clock strikes midnight and the one you love most, if you're lucky, consoles you and coos in that note between blue and lavender, loving you and the glue of the universe, the sea and the pebble mixed up and given to you.
The second word, however, timber: is falling cedar, hoping & the way I threw my fake eyes – glittery and wilted – in the trash after a show, the macabre rising in the waste
Basket, empty until I filled it.
Those costume jewelry & accessories sitting there, one by one – a desert living heart I wasn’t –
As if I never needed them. I needed water; I could not hold it in my belly. I dreamed in concaves, not rows and rows of protection from tears, in case you ever needed them.
I’d cry for hours after the plays,
The bats would flit me home, their shadows picking up my silences,
And carrying me away with them, as I continued to lob myself home,
Upon the lost and slanted hours, I was always spending my time, not gleaming in my spotlights, but pinching my lovehandles I saw in the mirror,
As those around me clucked
That I was someone they couldn’t understand
Anymore, no longer someone they saw clearly. Instead, their eyelids flickered – not to my time onstage, those hilted notes that disappeared over stage lights that were ‘rounded, then gone– the glue that stuck between my eyes, as if to hold me in the darkness when the lights went down, and the moment when the audience clapped for me.
The way the red pinpricked my irises,
The way the scale and I laughed as we entered
Numbers close to gravity, as we walked the desert without a plan, no mountains on my back to
Retrace me back to safety.
Leslie Cairns (She/her): Leslie Cairns holds an MA degree in English Rhetoric. She lives in Denver, Colorado. She has a Pushcart Nomination for 2022 in the Short Story category (‘Owl, Lunar, Twig’). She has upcoming flash, short stories, and poetry in various magazines (Full Mood Magazine, Dark Winter Lit, Londemere Lit, and others. Twitter: starbucksgirly
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