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published Nov 18th 2010 - 63 authors - 100 contributions - 20522 views
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You're a giggle of toes. I'm a raggedy ass. But found? Not in this world of wignuts. Yet if some private eye rats on us, remember: i got the girlsauce & can fry the enemy's scrawny butt in seconds cause I feel no pain. My body, my weapon. "But you'll leave me at their mercy and I have no strength." A profound depression sank her and confusion swirled in, washing away her confidence. "Damn you, Aimee Bender!" she cried, without understanding why, punching the air. She wallowed in the Kübler-Ross model before finally determining she was living--ha ha, she sobbed at this--the Bardo Thödol. She closed her eyes for a moment and tried to take in everything that was happening around her. Yesterday everything was so normal, as she expected her life to be and now everything was in utter chaos. Her world was falling to ruin and she didn't even know what to do about it anymore.
"Did you hear me?" said Glen. All she could do was stare at his toes, wiggling beneath him, one after another, in concert together, a crescendo with the pinky. She looked up. How did he do that, she thought. "I didn't," she said. Eyes back on that last toe, moving on its own now, she sighed. For a moment that toe was the new midpoint of the universe, of her universe, of this - once - endless and silent emptiness, a void in her head, a vacuum in her heart. The new midpoint was irritating. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Glen seemed to be distant, in another universe, and she was now alone. Was this what she wanted? She kept her eyes closed and moved her toes, rubbing them against each other. She rubbed them harder, harder, and a kind of foam started to form between the crooked digits. The foam lifted and shape-shifted, began to whir, like a dervish. Had Glen slipped her some drugs? Seriously, WTF? Then the foamy genie spoke. "I am Toe Man," he said. "it's good to get off your feet." Ahhhhh...so this is what happens when curfew is violated. Madness. All the girljuice in the world wouldn't help her in a fight against her own brain. Is this when one is expected to pray for the private eyes to come?
Each time the barest wave of consciousness washed over her she tried to grasp it. Cold was now seeping through to her skin. But cold from where? She knew she was not in her bed. The pain in her right hip told her that. And the cold. "I can get you a toe," he said. "Believe me, I can get you a toe." When he extended his rapidly decaying limb toward her she knew this was her only chance to turn around, to act on her fears and expectations and run screaming back towards the unknowable comforts of certainty.

But she hadn't come here for comfort. She had come here for his organ donor card.
"Are you to be my Vladimir, Glen? And you," she gestured to the formless twilight, "my Estragon? Or is it Shaun and Shem?" In a shower of organ donor cards, she sighed. "Be damned if this plurabelle gets out of this by the skin of her teeth. I suspect we're not even halfway through my story!"
"You won't speak my name," he said. He wagged the fingers of his outstretched hand, foam dripping off of them and into the fog.
She had wanted a tenth toe for so long. She wouldn't be held back by Don or Olivia's doubts. She took hold of his synthetic feeling hand and climbed up to the rail.
This mock-intimacy began to sicken her, and then fill her with rage. She hated his touch and wondered: which then? Shaun or Shem? I think I could guess. Just then, from out of the fog, an enormous antique mirror loomed--eight feet tall, nine--and she forgot him, his hand, her previous existence. Blocking out the heavens, the mirror held the growing image of herself before her eyes. Their—his?—collective voice lingered, tone shifting like her grasp of his hand. Below the mirror and rail, ripples sped outward, bubbles and cards tracing the surface. A jump, or a chunk of limb fallen? A chill awaited there with her warped face, blood rushing. She wanted to believe the voice:
"Trois petits chats, trois petits chats, trois petits chats, chats, chats," she slurred through her native lullaby. She peered down at the dark plate of river below, and at her shoes perched on the flaking top rail, resuming her original intent. I must end this lousy story early, she thought. The foaming dervish materialized next to her. "Might as well jump," he said, shapeshifting into David Lee Roth for one horrifying moment. "Go ahead and jump." Where was her mother when she needed her? She wasn't a big fan of Mr. Roth's music. Why was he here? She got out her cell phone. She had never known who her father was. Roth did have quite the pelvic tilt and her mother had been a cigarette girl at Starwood Club in 1976 when he was discovered.
Seagulls wheeled in the sky. She looked at the water below. The wind picked up, and her limbs felt heavy, waterlogged. The wind tugged at her clothing, blew the fabric tight against her body. There is so much desire in the world, she thought, and for this moment she was at the heart of it. Except, what was it that she desired, exactly? She had her health, except for the toe thing. She had love, messy love but still. So many haters in the world, especially given anonymity. She put on her 80s playlist on the iPod. She was happiest in the 80s. She could live in the 80s.
She should have listened to her mother and gone to college. No matter how fun the party, don't be the one left when the lights come on. Her lasting memory: one friend after another packing up their bedroom. She'd actually waved goodbye from three driveways. What had she been protecting by staying? She never listened to her, she thought. Mother used to tell her, you can catch warts and athlete’s foot at the swimming pool. She told her, I can burn warts on my toes with a laser beam or fig milk. I can erase freckles with vine tears. You can't grow a toe except with mud and a godlike breath. Mud. Is that what it all came down to? Reverting to nothing more than an innocent beast, acting on base emotions, eating when hungry, emptying my cotton head of reason, and filling it with desire? The need to survive was a dull pulsing orb at my epicenter, and beyond that, little else mattered.
Chapter 2
And so she passed the night like that, straddling the rail with her toes, thinking of her mother, her lost possibilities. What did the future hold? A watery grave? Or hope. The dull pulse of survival gave her rhythm. She snapped her thumbs and jived a little. She could do this. One always thinks one could do it until one can't. If I were two, she thought, one of us could actually make it. Of course when she thought of it, she was two already. Two was her toe, the tampered-with one, and one was herself, and all she needed to do was let someone complete her for once.

But she remembered how this had gone the last time she tried.
She'd always surrounded herself with unhappy homosexuals though she loved to hear about their leather bars and anonymous sex. Heterosexual men scared her, their leering and want. She really like cats, but there's a limit to them. So the last time she had tried had been... well, some time. Several years, three hairstyles and eight nervous habits ago. It had been Autumn, a russet, windy autumn, and she'd been babysitting a friend's purple cocktail the last time she had tried. The friend never came back, so she just took care of the cocktail. And then she felt lonely, so she drank another. And so on. She was supposed to let someone complete her and she ended with finding herself doubled in the mirrors, and everybody else was doubled too.
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