BY: Lucas Cardona
Consider magazines. The glossy covers. All those printed pages, advertisements, and pictures taken. Divine models—those unholy ghosts, hungry wraiths—posing in designer outfits remind me of the tangy drip of Molly or a load of warm sticky cum melting inside my throat. Ohh, how it burns. I get all excited and giddy like I’m tripping at an ODEZA concert, and my body starts to feel like a balloon expanding to the size of an elephant.
I go to the bookstore and stare at the racks and stacks of them. They give me the tummy tingles, like when I’m leaning over a bannister looking down on the strip from the rooftop bar of some Vegas hotel. All the people look like drab, pathetic ants. I could crush them with the palm of my enormous hand.
Sometimes, if I’m feeling mischievous or depressed, I’ll eat cookies and milk for breakfast just because I can.
When I stop to consider the mass production of magazines, I get overwhelmed. So much so that I have to pinch myself before I start to yell. I luv to yell. I luv to say the word yell. It rhymes with hell and is my favorite word in the English language. I like to yelp, but I just luv to yell. So when I see Emma Watson on the glossy cover of Elle magazine, I can’t help myself. I open my mouth and yell like hell, and I don’t stop until a crowd starts to form and they understand in the shadow of their hearts that nothing they do could ever help, nothing they do could ever match that feeling of seeing Emma Watson looking back at me from the glossy cover of Elle magazine.
I still have every one. Every fashion and glamour mag I ever bought since I was a teenager. I keep them in my closet, stashed in neat little boxes, one on top the other, each adorned with its own satin ribbon.
Sometimes, if I’m feeling judged or misunderstood, I’ll take a box out of my closet and gently pull the ribbon loose between my thumb and forefinger. It gives me such pleasure—the coercing of a satin ribbon free from its protective knot. I’ll empty the box onto my bed and gather them up in my arms like presents on Christmas morning and strut all around the apartment in my Japanese kimono hugging them to my chest.
It drives my cousin Edie (total slut) nuts. Edie’s mom is a trainwreck. She’s got six kids by five different baby daddies, and only the twins have ever met their father. The rest of the litter is condemned to go through life without any preconception of who they are or where they came from or what quality of beast they might become. That’s why I take it easy on her when she says she doesn’t think James Franco is sexy. As if a mortal had the right to make that decision, anyway.
She and I have lived together for three years now. We were born two weeks apart at the same hospital. She’s my oldest friend, and I luv to make her jealous. Give me one, Luc, she begs, I want to read it. She calls me Luc, short for Lucifer, but my real name’s Luscious. C’mon, she says, just let me look at one. As if I didn’t know better.
I won’t even invite my new boyfriend over to meet her. She’s always trying to convert them. To-tal. Slut. As if she had the skills I have. As if she had the experience. The access. What’s mine stays mine, and I don’t share with anyone.
As kids, we always played for keeps.
But Edie has the most elegant black hair I’ve ever seen, awake or asleep. That hair haunts my dreams. I want to cut it all off and wear it for a wig on Halloween. I could happily drown in its weightlessness. Hair like that is an extension of the undying soul. It’s ephemeral. The epitome of demonic grace.
Every October I throw a new temper-tantrum. I tell her, give it to me. I want it. I chase it from room to room, clutching a pair of knife-edge sheers. I drop to my knees and beg. I weep for her compassion. I tell her she can have anything. Anything. Even my precious magazines. The hidden ones. I bribe her. I threaten her. I butter her up. I tell her how natural her tits look. How unbelievably supple. I tell her I love her like a sister. Like a lover. That I’d do anything for her. Can’t she just do me this one favor?
But the bitch refuses to share.
And then I ask her. Not because I don’t think I know the answer but because I’m astonished by the haunting implications of the question.
Edie, how can everything I am mean nothing to you?
Lucas Cardona is an undergraduate at Metropolitan State University of Denver. He was a finalist for the 2018 Poetry Fellowship for Emerging Writer’s at Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop and a three-time finalist for Glimmer Train’s Short Story Award for New Writers. He grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, where he perfected the art of self-destruction, and has lived (briefly) in Barcelona, Spain and Juneau, Alaska. He now lives in Denver, where he works behind the bar at several music venues around the city.