Sunday, September 25, 2011

the worst kind: part II

I’ve always gotten hung up on ugly women. As a general rule, no woman is exactly like another, but an ugly girl is special -- her lack of looks has forced her to fine-tune the ability to make a man feel like much more than he is.

My last ugly girl seemed to embrace it like she was trying to win. I’ve never met another woman who owned so many baggy jeans and flannel shirts, as though by wrapping herself in layers of fabric she could bury her flat chest and barrel of a ribcage. And she never took off the yellow-tinted sunglasses that hid the dark circles beneath her eyes, the memento of an old meth habit.

But she had this way about her. She was so shy she rarely made eye contact, so everything she said took on an ethereal quality, as though she were speaking to some invisible entity, almost pleading, hoping that angels would hear.

She seemed to think that if she just ignored me hard enough the effect would backfire, and I would boomerang back and bust down her invisible walls. Though by nature she seemed aloof, she wanted nothing more than for someone to just sit with her, someone who didn't want to be anywhere else. I felt honored to be in that audience.

But some days she would be gripped by mania. One day I caught her making these stupid jewelry boxes covered in seashells and baking mini quiches as though she had someplace to go, all day just wiping hot glue off her fingertips and filling puff-pastry shells with beaten eggs, bits of chopped garlic, and Greek olives.

Her mania also allowed her to speak to me directly, and that's when I noticed the untouchable hurt in her eyes, the kind of raw thing that pricks your nerves like an invisible cactus needle stuck in the arch of your foot.

It was after I told her that her jewelry boxes were the kind of tacky crap you buy your mom at the last minute on vacation that she told me to get the hell out of her kitchen before she stabbed me. In that moment I realized I loved this ugly girl, and I told her so, and she crumbled to the floor and wrapped her arms around my knees. She begged me never to leave.

So why, then, after I'd brought over my toothbrush and my shaving cream, did I start to dream about killing her? 

We'd be on the beach, the cold sand packed beneath our feet, and when the night became as dark and thick as velvet we'd run out into the waves and swim out past the breakers. She looked almost pretty as the moon rose and started to slide across the sky like an egg across a frying pan, as though pushed by the finger of god.

But her newfound loveliness enraged me. No one who shone like a jellyfish under the moonlight would drape her legs across my lap and talk up at the ceiling, placing me in the company of her gods. When she smiled at me, I couldn't take it. I squeezed her skull between my palms and shoved her head under the very water that coughed up her beloved seashells.

Her hair wound between my fingers like netting, and her hands slapped at my fists, slippery as fish. Then slowly she began to slacken until she became heavy as sandbags. 

As I was treading water, choking on the salty brine, pulling her impossible weight toward the surface to get one last look at her face -- was she ugly again; please, let her be ugly again -- I snapped awake. 

She was sleeping soundly next to me. I buried my face in her hair and inhaled deeply the scent of her strawberry shampoo.

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