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Good Girls

Good Girls

Maryse Meijer

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I woke up and smelled them and followed their smell—

—shampoo perfume sweat lotion cheap clothes conditioner nail polish blood—

—to the house with its broken screens and the cracked kitchen glass and the holes in between the boards and its skinny walls—their bodies flashing endlessly in the windows—

—they had long blonde hair I found it everywhere—on the porch or in the yard or on the sidewalks or buried in the grass—I rolled in it and it stuck to me—

—it better not shit on the lawn one of them said—that was the first thing they said about me when they saw me squatting near the front door—I didn’t shit but I did piss on it when they weren’t looking—

—there was a woman in the house—not the mother—she would say about the slamming doors or the radio on too loud or some other thing girls!!!—but the girls didn’t care—

—I think the mother was dead and the father too—

dude it’s like it’s obsessed with us—does it have tags? one of them wanted to know grabbing me by the neck—look idiot it doesn’t even have a collar it’s obviously homeless—what kind is it—it looks like a Shepherd one of them said—no those are bigger maybe a Boxer said another—what the hell are you talking about if you think that’s a purebred you’re out of your fucking mind—

dude it’s like it’s obsessed with us—

—I remembered being a man what it was like walking on two legs and having arms to put around a girl’s shoulders and the way her bones felt if you squeezed her—I remembered sitting up at a table and eating with a fork—but I didn’t remember my name or how long I had lived or when I stopped being a man exactly—so I can’t say if I miss it—

—I breathed against the house at night—sometimes they were sleeping sometimes they were whispering into the phone—sometimes they were crying in the beds or in the bathroom—I smelled their wet faces and their lips against the receivers and their feet rubbing together beneath their dirty sheets—

—it had been a long time since I’d been a body in that kind of bed—alone and with other bodies—whose names I can’t remember and maybe never knew—

—none of them liked to get up in the morning they had to be pounced on or bitten or smacked on the butt by whoever turned the alarm off—

—they microwaved bacon and wiped their greasy hands on the chair cushions—they tried to make eggs but burned them every time—going out of the room and then coming back to a blackened pan—they ate cold pastry from foil packets or peanut butter fingered from a jar—sometimes they gave me chips or let me lap up the crumbs they left behind as they walked—

—they loved to call each other names or punch each other’s arms or pull each other’s hair—often I saw just a tangle of bodies in the house the girls so close together on the couch or sharing a bed and trying to get a signal on the cell phone they found in the street—they were always finding things or hiding things or taking things home—and some of these things I remembered the name for and some of them I recognized but could not name—like when one of the girls had a bag in her hand—clutching it by its neck she whispered to another girl don’t tell and then she dumped the bag over the bed and out came a pile of black lace—and they smiled just looking at the black things and smearing them around on the blanket and giggling—

—I got into the house once when the woman left the back door open—I ran in and I headed straight for the place where the black things were and I took one and buried it in their yard beneath a bush so I could sniff it and always know where it was—

—they had parties—they put Christmas lights on the back porch and mixed alcohol in a bucket—some friends came—four boys in a truck—I showed my teeth and fear popped through their flesh and the girls wrapped their heads around the side of the house and yelled DON’T WORRY HE’S FRIENDLY—

—the one place it was hard to see in was the bathroom when they were in the shower because the steam clogged the window and I shoved my eye against the glass again and again legs trembling I closed my eyes and sniffed as hard as I could—smell of hot flesh and soap—girls! the woman yelled inside—how many times do I have to tell you no dirty panties in the sink!—

—which is what they wore lying in the backyard on a blanket—I came running I drooled over their brown knees—they hit me on the nose but I kept on doing it—until they sprayed me with the hose—I never did like water—

—they hit me on the nose but I kept on doing it—until they sprayed me with the hose—

—they were doing that thing where it was a school night and they weren’t going anywhere but they acted like they were—a red shirt thrown over the lamp and the girls drawing on their faces and grabbing things out of each other’s hands and bending to look at themselves in the dresser mirror—their jeans so tight their hips puffed out over the top—one of them took a bottle and shook it over her arms—liquid crawling from elbow to wrist—someone put on the radio and they stepped on the bed and closed their eyes—fake fruit smell—the other girls said oh god it stinks!—and the girl at the mirror said it’s designer!—and they screamed back it still stinks!!!!!!

—but everything smelled good to me—

—they walked to their school together carrying books one of them always running to catch up one of them always combing her hair one of them always looking into the cars that passed all of them always talking at the same time—it’s following us again—I think he’s cut—ugh are you kidding he’s got mange—I think he belonged to the guy with the trailer in the backyard but it got away—oh you mean the guy who did all those drugs and blew up his grandma’s garage—yeah hi—I heard he was in jail—I heard he was dead—I heard he beat all his kids and they still wanted to live in that shithole—why do you think anyone does meth if they know it’s going to fuck up their face with scabs and shit I mean crack makes more sense just like cosmetically—shh there’s Mr. Kinkaid—where—in the car—oh my god don’t smile at him—but they did smile at him it was like an itch they had their mouths moving whenever they saw a boy or a man and when the car pulled into the parking lot I pissed on its tires—

but they did smile at him it was like an itch they had

—I was made for finding meat and eating it—how natural it came to me—a rat in my mouth they saw me at night a light pointed at me they screamed ew DISGUSTING!!—I dropped the rat and left it but still they wouldn’t let me lick them for a week—

—they whispered we should call the cops on you they’d put you in the pound they’d euthanize you—grinning as they said it—but when I whined they said oh for fuck’s sake don’t be so pathetic—and slammed the door as they went inside and the woman said—why do you let that dirty thing follow you around—and the girls snapped back we DON’T it just DOES—

—they were no longer in school and the house throbbed with the smell of them even the jasmine even the barbeques even the new tar on the roads was crushed beneath their smell they gathered in the backyard and one of them was smiling to herself the others pushed her shoulders saying what is it—what—

—when finally from out of her pocket she pulled the thing and held it in her lap for them to see—oh my god give it to me you don’t even know how to work it—don’t point it at me!!!—I’m not I’m just showing you—it looks real—it is real—I mean no like it could kill someone—well you could if you got them in just the right place another one said—what’s the right place?—right HERE one of them said and pushed the other’s head—I was in the bush on the other side of their driveway next to the neighbor’s fence and they said come! come out! come here! slapping their thighs—sit! stay! they giggled and one of them pushed on my butt and my legs buckled beneath me the ground got very hot against my belly—I rolled on my side and they pushed their shoes against my ribs—they cooed in a long loopy song as they dropped potato chips on my face—and poured soda over my head which stung when it got in my eyes and made a pool beneath me sticky and spreading—they ate the rest of the chips and one of them was mad about not having any more orange soda—you do it—no you no YOU!!!—they fumbled the stuff between them and the empty bag was thrown on the lawn—they stopped giggling their bodies throwing shadows over mine and I tried to get them all in my eye at the same time—they had a whole sack of the metal balls and they emptied them into me the mouth of that thing against my mouth against my ribs on my tail one by one taking turns I just lay there and whined—it’s not a lot of blood at all—it’s just a BB gun what did you expect—they were grabbing it out of each other’s hands—arguing—one of them put one of the balls in the other’s arm click click—the girl that was shot screamed so loud I couldn’t hear anything for many long moments—shit you cunts!!! she shouted bent in half her hair hanging down almost touching me I moved my leg and she groaned—they had been drinking vodka—she vomited and then they were all laughing again sitting on the ground and falling over each other they forgot about the thing and the black pellets and her puffy arm with its little red eye of wound—clutching their stomachs their legs a heap kicking the ground they were helpless helplessly happy—what the fuck!!!!!!!—laughing—laughter—

—I licked their hands I was shivering all over they tasted like salt and like the way they smelled I could barely breathe and I sank into the middle of them I was bleeding a little from a lot of different places and they laughed and laughed at me but I didn’t mind—

—I’d had my chance as a man.


Maryse Meijer is the author of Heartbreaker (FSG 2016), Northwood (forthcoming Black Balloon, 2018), and Rag (forthcoming FSG 2019). She lives in Chicago. 

Illustration by Leigh Luna.

This story can also be found in Paper Darts Volume Seven.


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