Let’s say crickets scare you. When they hop from around the corner, black and shiny. They shine like metal, cast from molds and still hot from the fire. Or when a draft slams shut a hollow wooden door in the hallway? I have told you to keep the goddamned doors shut. I can’t afford to air condition the neighborhood. That slam sets your teeth on edge, doesn’t it? Your teeth are always on edge. That’s why they’re so worn down, why they ache when you drink lemonade. You shouldn’t be drinking lemonade. It’s straight sugar. And if someone is mad at you? Even a little. Or not at all. They’re probably not mad at you at all. They’re always mad at you. But probably they don’t even notice you. Why would they notice you? But if they did notice you, they would definitely be mad at you. You would slide a thin knife up their backbone with a sharp push. You are filleted like a shiny fish. Your gills flutter. Stop fluttering. You can breathe just fine. You would build fires around their eyes. They would be so mad at you. Or maybe you would just disgust them. You’d smell differently. Your hair would look dirty. No one likes little girls with dirty hair. I told you to take a bath. Did you rinse your hair? Your gums would be too wet and shiny when you smile. Your gums shine like something that should be hidden away in your pants. Close your legs. Hide your smile. There’s nothing to smile about. People will see that you are awkward. You will not say the right thing. You will stumble over words. Words will get stuck in the cavities that are rotting your teeth. Your teeth are broken. Have you washed your hair yet? I told you not to drink that lemonade. No one wants to talk to you. There are too many awkward pauses. The pauses are tied up in parcels and strung in the air like bunting for a party. Stop bumping into the walls. Think about where you’re going. You could pack up your lunch in those pauses. That’s how big they are. Remember your thermos. I don’t know. Put orange juice in it. People will want to untie themselves from conversation with you. You will try to make them stay by tying tighter knots. People will struggle. You will panic. Your fingers are too fleshy and soft to tie knots. Your fingers look like something that should be tucked up under your skirt. Put them away. I am tired of unknotting your shoelaces. Untie them before you take off your shoes. You take shallow breaths and stand wide eyed and still. Stop looking so scared. It makes you look weird. You are stealing all of the air from everyone else. This is why no one wants to be in the same room as you. If you don’t start to act normal, I’m leaving. I’m walking out and I won’t come back and you can cry all you want and it won’t bother me and stop crying right now and if you cry I won’t come back and I said to stop it. Your tears are hot and oily when you rub them into your face. Your hair is greasy. Your face is oily. You are making me sick. Jesus Christ. Just stop it.
You will not want to write this story. You will want to write another story, not this one. This story will make you hate things. You already hate things. Can’t you try to be positive? You’re so negative. You will not want to tell this story, but this is your story. Your stories are boring. I know you don’t want to. You’ve told me a thousand times. Give me your hand. You are so tiresome sometimes. I feel like I can’t breathe when I’m near you.
(return to fears. Strengthen child’s voice)