picked the black beans from the barbed wires of her braces. It was hard to be
a vegetarian in high school. She went home for lunch to avoid the cafeterias
oily slop and the greasy veneer of social hierarchy. Just one more year, Lily
thought to herself, and then shed be done with 732 classmates who were hopelessly
one last look in the mirror. She studied the contours of her face, the bony nose
that had never quite healed properly and the avalanche of teeth. She relaxed her
lips and attempted to close them together over a toothy overbite festooned in
hardware. Her prominent buckers had been the butt of many jokes. Nicknames, coined
by her big sister Chase, such as: Bucky, Snaggletoof, the Fang, LilBeaver,
Tusk and so forth.
sisters looked nothing alike. Chase was small, dark and neatly proportioned while
Lily had big bones, limbs like long skinny branches that the rest of her body
had not yet grown into, a blond shell of wiry hair and arctic blue eyes. Even
with six months of braces her overbite still took up the front row of her face.
a brown canvas backpack hitched over one shoulder, Lily shuffled across railroad
tracks on her way back to school. She packed one hard green bud into the bowl
of a pipe and began counting down the weeks until summer. Only three weeks of
detention left, six weeks of school and Chase would be home tomorrow. She exhaled
a skunky stream of smoke that lingered behind her like an afterthought. Together,
she conspired; they could rescue her best friend Mandy from rehab in Wisconsin.
Poor Mandy, Lily sighed, rummaging in her back pocket for the envelope with bubbly
handwriting. Mandys desperate letters trickled in like runaway tears. She
lamented grievances to Lily about the facilities efforts to brainwash her into
swapping drugs for Jesus. How no one seemed to care that noxious fumes from the
neighboring paper mill were poisoning all of them. To make matters worse, Mandys
parents conveniently blamed Lilys friendship, as the spiral-plunging catalyst
to their daughters descent into drugs and alcohol. Her two remaining girlfriends
were a year older than her, and therefore graduating at the end of the year and
getting the hell out of LaGrange Illinois.
tucked the pipe into her backpack and popped a piece of mint gum into her mouth
before entering the brick fortress of LT High School. Mr. Muncher, the beady-eyed
Narc, was patrolling the hallway, "Nice to see you, Ms. Gottcent. You have 30
seconds until the tardy bell," he said, tapping his watch. Lily nodded and continued
at a stoners pace up the speckled stairs. Mr. Muncher was a recently tamed robot
ever since his elderly mother fell ill and was hospitalized under the care of
Dr. Gottcent, Lilys father. The old fart really changed his tune from a
quota driven detention monger to a temperate troll. No more yellow tickets plucked
off his official notepad that hung in a holster on his belt; it was like sudden
breezed by History of Civilizations class, she noticed Mr. Pinkerton handing out
exams. "Fuck," she groaned, scooting past the doorway nonchalantly, making a detour
to the nurse.
Lily, you were in her two weeks ago for cramps" Nurse Linda said, scrutinizing
Lilys hunched posture.
but that was ovu-la-tion, this is the real deal" she said, gripping her
its not that I dont believe you, its just...suspicious," the
nurse placed her hands on her hips authoritatively.
get a note from my father, its a condition, called um, endo...endo..."
The nurse exclaimed. Lily nodded her head gravely.
dinner Lily made a sweep through her fathers office for a blank prescription pad.
She peeled off three sheets, snatched a Prozac pen from the top drawer and organized
the knick-knacks on his desk. The brass tennis racket paperweight was supposed
to go on top of the papers not underneath, and her framed school picture required
better visual placement.
Mrs. Gottcent announced from the downstairs hallway. Lily had lost track of time
practicing the slanted scratch of her fathers lucrative signature. She was
improving indeed, and had already managed to liberate herself from gym class on
Mondays with the Aerobics Nazi.
G removed three steaming Chicken Kievs from the oven. "Are you sure you
dont want one?" she asked Lily.
we go through this every night" Lily said, exasperated, "No. Chicken is meat."
a teenager, for Chrissake, you need protein," she argued.
eat tofu, or beans instead of dead flesh!" She winced at the breaded carcass in
the Pyrex dish coffin. "You know In India they have all sorts of vegetarian dishes
that are the main course."
the spices stink." Mrs. G declared matter of fact.
school?" Her father asked, sipping at a glass of burgundy wine.
pops, I just love it. You should see how nice Mr. Muncher acts now that his dear
mum is in the hospital. You gotta keep her in there for just one more year."
gentle smile crept across Dr. G.s face, "Lil, Im not sure shell
make it that long, " he said in a versed physicians voice.
did you talk to Dr. Scooble about taking on Lily?" Mrs. G. asked.
Ill have to call him tomorrow," he said, removing his glasses to rub his
a second, why? I like Dr. Kathy just fine." Lily protested.
Kathy is a pediadontist," Mrs. G declared. "It was a temporary solution when Dr.
Phillips died, but you need an adult orthodontist."
I dont," Lily disputed. "Thats not fair, Im under eighteen."
dont know why you like going there" Mrs. G said, buttering her bread, "That
place is like Romper Room."
rolled in around dinnertime Thursday night with her ruby Subaru station wagon
loaded down with her possessions. She talked in jagged spasms about leaving campus.
Lily watched her sister pick at her eggplant Parmesan with chopsticks while responding
to her parents by their first names. This was a custom Chase started at the onset
of college to promote her own independence. "Gloria," Chases mother was
not a fan of her shenanigans and she continued to ignore it, in hopes that it
was a phase that she would outgrow.
got a free farewell falafel from my buddy at Lenny's Mediterranean, God, I'm gonna
miss that place" Chase reflected, looking at no one in particular.
a falafel?" Dr. G asked.
Gene, it's like a Middle Eastern sandwich," Chase started to explain as if holding
a phantom falafel.
vegetarian!" Lily proclaimed.
the dishes were done and car was unpacked, Lily pulled Chase into her bedroom
for a private retreat from Gloria and Gene.
the door" Lily ordered Chase, opening the window and pulling out a pipe.
Lil', time for a nightcap? How much do you smoke?"
needed" she croaked, passing her sister the marble bowl that had once been hers.
what's going on with you? Are you bummed to be home, or did something happen?"
it that obvious?" Chase asked.
nodded her head and blew her hit out the window.
it's all so fucked up" Chase grieved. "And, I feel like I'm carrying around this
big secret that's going to crush Gloria when she finds out."
"Are you pregnant?"
Chase laughed sardonically, falling onto the unmade bed, "No bun in the oven here"
she said, slapping her beer gut and ripping a four-star belch.
you...in love?" Lily tried again.
you are getting very hot, sis -- now think, flaming..."
gay!" Lily shouted with excitement, "I knew it, I swear to God, I knew it!"
think you just won a fruitcake," Chase said, raising her palm up for a high-five.
s so fantastic!" Lily gushed.
it's not Lil', it sucks ass. Gloria is going to try to send me to Christian reform
smile was an explosion across her face.
the fuck are you so happy about? Huh? Why do you look like your sitting on the
goddamn Pope's face?" Chase snapped, whacking her with a pillow.
just s-o-o-o perfect. Let me take care of it, I can talk to mom."
you dare," Chase threatened. "I can take care of myself thank you very little."
you see, I'll tell mom that we are queer. I'm gay too!" Lily announced.
You are not!"
huh. Fuck the patriarchy! I love women," Lily declared, raising her fist
wait a sec., when did you figure out that you were a lesbian, Lil?"
thought that you had a boyfriend, Mr. dealer guy with dreadlocks?"
do...but, it's just a front," she said defensively.
you ever been with a woman?"
that's fine" Chase said, pulling at her ear lobe pondering. "Just do me a favor,
don't say anything to mom yet, okay?"
G woke Chase at eight o'clock in the morning, rambling on about cleaning and tennis
and meetings and grocery shopping and Lily's orthodontist appointment. Chase attempted
to hide under a pillow to savor dissolving moments of her sex dream with her sixth
grade teacher Miss Belshaw, whose breasts were as soft as cupcakes under her form
mom. Yes, I'll take Lily to her appointment" Chase promised.
picked up Lily in her mom's Lincoln Continental, blaring P-Funk from the crappy
speakers. For a moment, the anxiety of seeing her old high school crept up her
spine like a venomous spider. She witnessed teenagers of all shapes; sizes and
colors spill out of the enormous twin doors. Memories seeped into her with needle
sharp precision. Where was Gretchen now? What ever happened to Will?
get out of here," Lily said, heaving her backpack onto the passenger seat next
I forgot to brush" Lily moaned, looking at her braces in the car mirror, "Do you
got any gum?" Chase opened the console where half a pack of Glorias Trident
youre still seeing the kiddy orthodontist?" Chase smiled smugly.
shes such a hook-up" Lily said, smacking her gum. "I look forward to my
pulled the car over at the curb in front of Dr. Kathys office. Neon light
bulbs of balloons glowed in the window.
you sure you dont want to come in? Lily asked, leaning into the door, "You
could read Highlights..."
Dr. Kathys office, adorned with rainbow and unicorn wallpaper, Lily sat
on the dotted couch waiting for the show to begin.
sock monkey hand puppet appeared around the corner, "Are you ready for your appointment
Lily?" a squeaky voice asked. Lily knew the routine and followed her messenger
to the back.
out on the dentist chair with a big blue bib, Lily surveyed Dr. Kathy and Freddy
her sidekick/helper arrange the tools with comic precision.
Freddy?" Dr Kathy trilled.
bet!" Freddy replied from the sock monkey as he wheeled the nitrous machine next
to the chair.
was hard for Lily to refrain from clapping her hands when she was showered with
this type of attention. She knew that it was special treatment for regular braces
tightening. Lily wiggled her toes in anticipation as she waited for the magical
question to descend.
you want the Bozo nose or Smurf nose today?" Dr. Kathy chirped inquisitively,
holding a red sponge nose in one hand and a blue one in the other.
nose! Bozo nose!" Lily shrieked with excitement.
Kathy placed the plastic mask ornamented with a red ball over Lilys mouth
and nose. Lily inhaled deeply and twitched in delight. Her eyes swam lovingly
around the festive room. Everything was amusing, and the bozo nose was like the
cherry on top. Lily closed her eyes. All situations in life had a perfect order
and a perfect time to be revealed.