Her bedroom suit is the color of rotting lemons found at the bottom of the fridge. A pale yellow fading into gray.
The wood is soft and cheap and coated in thick, tacky layers of paint. She could easily leave teethmarks if she bites a drawer. She should bite a drawer. She should hold each drawer in two hands and run them through her teeth like row after row of corn on the cob, one drawer after another. She will hem the drawers with a series of half moons. When she grows up, her teeth will break and she will remember holding dresser drawers in her lap and gnawing away at their decorative fronts. She is a rodent with a long hairless tail.
A big mirror stands over the long dresser. The mirror rocks when she wipes it with windex and a torn undershirt. It could easily fall and break. She should break the mirror. She will break the mirror. It is a cold and sunny Saturday morning. It snowed last night, and her neighborhood is covered with white sparkles. She gives the mirror a good push and it breaks. Ten thousand silver splinters of glass skate across the wooden floor, spinning into all four corners of the room.
The crash from her bedroom is spectacular. Everyone in the house startles. Her family members are the most excellent startlers. The bones of their skeletons hang loose from their shoulders like curtains on a hanger, and the bone curtains give a good rattle, quick as a hiccup. No one runs to help. Good startlers, they are. Good runners, they are not. They are retreaters. They retreat.
Her mother is crying on the floor of the back porch. She wretches periodically, the gagging sounds loosening the chimney. Sometimes she vomits on the green plastic carpet made to look like a freshly cut lawn. The plastic blades of grass press into the side of her face, and she carries the red dents for the rest of the day.
Her sister Joanie is playing the flute in the basement. Tinny whistles putter out before they make it to the end of the long metal wand. Joanie takes deep breaths and starts over. The air in the basement is thick with Joanie’s exhalations.
Billy lines up battalions of plastic green army men on the wooden floor in his bedroom. He named one of the soldiers Kuwait. Kuwait has moveable limbs and Billy cuts the rubber band that secures Kuwait’s leg to his pelvis. A group of men carry Kuwait to the nearest helicopter. The sergeant carries Kuwait’s leg over his shoulder like a rifle. Billy pictures bullets shooting out of Kuwait’s toes.
The mirror crashes. Magnificently. The family retreats.
She gathers the shards and pierces each needle into her limbs and along her vertebra. She leaves her bedroom and struts through the house like a grand porcupine, mirrors catching the light and reflecting it. The needles shine and ripple in waves when she draws her limbs through the air.
This doesn’t really happen, of course. She dusts her furniture on Saturday mornings and carefully cleans the swaying mirror. Nothing breaks. Nothing ever breaks. Joanie does play the flute. Billy stages battles on his bedroom floor. Mom vomits on the back porch and walks around with a rash on her face in case anyone missed it. She has a rocking chair and bangs the curved rockers against the wooden floor for several hours a day.
Sheila is an ugly child. She has an ugly name, and she knows it, and she is ugly to look at, and she knows this, too. Her shredded bangs cover her face. Her hair is the gray like used bathwater. She is thin and bony. She wears glasses and the frames are made from a brown molded plastic. They are the color of shit. Her nose is small and her eyes are small, but her mouth spreads like a red tear in the skin at the center of her face. Her mouth is big and her gums are red and slick and they shine. She covers her mouth with her hand in the same way that she wears pants. She is thin and her elbows and knees are always scabbed over with bumpy brown cobblestones.