by Meg Tuite

SO HERE I WAS, all flesh and howl and snot, sobbing in a bathroom stall, plastered in by humiliation and a gown, blathering through the soiled glitter of this plumped up prom. Oh, if I could claim that it wasn’t the redundancy of idiotic bloat. Cruel blight.

That one obligatory guy who lanked beneath a plywood variety of other guys packed by magnitude of concave shoulders and lack of opinions. He played basketball. He scored. His face was a pavilion of pincushion acne with a rutted-open mouth as though there was a stick stuck under the roof to hold it there. 

The fabric that stained my invisibility had been a smudge of indifference with a liver full of friends. Yet now I was hemmed in by some kind of plastic love for this placid lout. Just to meet my girlish shortcomings. Ripped my visage to appease the hinges that held high school romance bolted forever by its laws.

A girl’s arm, adrift and unlatched from a boy’s, could be snipped by any target. No one limbed me. I was forced to choose and salivate over one of these residential dregs. So, I sat in Carol’s car, dragged on cigarettes and mouthed off about the basketball star I would sex-pluck after prom. Carol told Sheila. Sheila told Lauren. Lauren lunch-tabled muddles of girls until there was no going back.

So, I sat in Carol’s car, dragged on cigarettes and mouthed off about the basketball star I would sex-pluck after prom.

Girls crushed into Lauren’s car while her bleating breasts carried on their own monologue, excusing her mouth which wimpled its silent judging way around the lower half of her face. Everyone agreed the guy was mine. Lauren gurgled consent.

Until prom. Anticipation was a multi-faceted cretin of unhinged stupidity. So yes, I hacked away at make-up and bought an urn of a dress. Made sure the parents over-documented this heinous crime scene.

Under strung-up flickering lights and the stench of damp footwear in the school gymnasium, faceless eyes wedged me in. Waited for me to see what they wanted me to see. Lauren crushed up against the basketball player. The snare of their lips pressed together in two sides of an ass.

Here’s when comradery steps in and up.

‘She doesn’t give two shits. Look at her gush out of that cheapass dress. Gag.’

‘Seriously? ‘Member when he blazed his perv stiffie in gym class? Freakface Dicklet.’

‘Let’s face it. This guy is a C- at best.’

And still the wreckage began. A beast tangled between me and childhood.   

Some girls snorted, but most smirked. Everyone, hungry for flames, watched this overwrought display hold itself up with a grisly pomp of ugly. I swelled, sobbed, spit a slaughter of unbridled suffering. Someone took me by the sleeve, dragged and threw me in a bathroom stall.

‘Shh, shh, honey, it’s okay, really.’  I heard eyerolls. Gum cracked. Cigarettes hissed. A shame of a spectacle. Just another sappy sick show of a girl with smack for dignity. Flopping and gooing over a guy I never sucked in the first place.

So what was it? Time went flat, while my mind routed around inside the catacombs of escape. Lauren was a nibbler. Wrapped her haunches around the crust of somebody’s desire just to create a tiny hole that expanded betrayals from the past.

How does one become invisible wearing a hulk of a lava lamp dress? Sheila had a car and answered to beer. I had money and a sister who could buy us oblivion.

The mirror lurched towards me. My face an abstract of streaming purples and blacks. Fuck it. Too late to merge with the peacocks. Not too late to get trashed.

I fluffed myself up and locked arms with Sheila.


Meg Tuite is author of four story collections and five chapbooks. She won the Twin Antlers Poetry award for her poetry collection, Bare Bulbs Swinging. She teaches writing retreats and online classes hosted by Bending Genres. She is also the Fiction Editor of Bending Genres and Associate Editor at Narrative Magazine.