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Hungry

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She was by my feet, a withered mess stretched over the carpet like some fleshy, recently sick house pet. I squinted at her, putting my hands over my knees and leaning down. The glass gears under my skin flared like burning hair and I winced, even as oil was administered through tubes in my bones to smooth out the creaks and painful wrenching. Her eyes did not move under her eyelids, and if they had been open they would have been godless and black like a coma. Her breath hardly made a sound as it swayed a few stands of my hair, making them glitter dully like a bad tempered nest of fiber optics. She smelled like she’d been binge-drinking sewer water instead of vodka. I did not want to touch her, but I swallowed the better part of my apprehension and brushed a grizzled lock of hair away from her cheek. The split ends brushed the creases in my palm, and they felt like cactus bristles. She was not a lost soul in Vegas, or a broken-hearted poet, or some rosy-cheeked tramp with a reputation for adventures and alcohol. Hollywood would not touch her kind. She was part of a darker trading system, one that couldn’t be lit up from behind by movie producers or blue-bodied cops. It was little, but it was a thing called “World” and “Real” and it could bite hard, even if you didn’t pay it as much attention as you did those flashy, new age TV screens.

I straightened up suddenly, repulsed by her smell and the crack crystals that riddled her coat and boots like fairy dust for the insane. I stepped back, stepped around her, and hurried for the kitchen.

“Maya.” There, in the corner. He was looking at me strangely, like he couldn’t quite make out who I was. But I was designed to be split—fissures ran down my face like cracks in a mirror, and like those cracks, they brought in odd currents. I must have looked transparent to him, like shattered glass. “Maya. You are coming to pieces.”

“You could have at least picked her up off the floor.” I accused. My teeth were clicking uncomfortably, chipping off cheap, manmade enamel.

He ignored me and put his feet on the table. His eyes were blank, but I could make out odd, misshapen membranes flickering over their surface like raging machinery. “I suppose I won’t be able to eat you when you up and shatter.” He continued, picking a chicken bone off of the table and crunching it between his alligator teeth. “I shall just have to gather the pieces and nail them to my wall.” He flashed me a reptile wink. “You will make a lovely mirror.”

“I told you to watch her tonight.” I said quietly, wiping drug dust off of my face. My clear-coated fingers were laced with rusted, twisting lines of poetry and the words opened their little toothless mouths and spat angry education in my face as my hand passed over my glassy features. I quickly dropped it to my side.

“I told you to get food.” He pointed out, raising his eyebrows at my empty hands. “Just because you don’t eat doesn’t mean the rest of us should starve.” He finished his chicken bone with a noisy swallow.

I sighed and said nothing. My glass throat was too delicate to swallow the tough meat that was most common in these areas. I had a liquid diet. My whole family revolved around milk and booze and bones. Each of us had picked our poison. But Daniel was getting hungry, and the only bones I had to speak of were made of glass and would splinter in his throat and hurt horribly. Bree’s bones were full of alcohol, but they were soft and human and it was a miracle he hadn’t eaten her while I was away. A miracle she was drunk on the floor and not a pile of stretched skin shoved under the carpet.



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