On December 3, 2008
She’s Got Stars In Her Eyes*
I’m staring at her eyes. They will never blink. They will never cry. They will never grow old. They will never die.
There are stars in her eyes. Five pointed, like pentacles, like Wonder Woman’s underwear. Like the ornaments on a Christmas tree. Two bright, shiny, silver-white stars inside circles of blue. Above and below her eyes, delicately curved eyelashes bring my gaze back to hers.
She’s smiling. Like always. Her teeth are a tiny slice of the moon. They gleam like the mouths in the toothpaste commercials. A sparkle of light that blinds the senses. I covet those teeth, that perpetual clean smile. I wonder if her smile equates happiness. Could it mean something else?
Her lips are pink, like frosting. Perfectly formed. Painted just so. Her cheeks glow as if airbrushed with cotton candy. She’s a petal fallen from a flower. She’s the scent of packages newly opened. Her hair is cornsilk coated in conditioner.
I am holding her by her legs. My hands are wrapped around the pink silk dress, ballooning with crinoline gauze. Her legs are bent just a bit. I heard them snap when I did it. I did it to see if she could sit in that beautiful two story house with the elevator. How come she’s too tall for it? How come they don’t make her house just a bit larger? She’s always a bit too big for her things. I feel bad for her. And her friend with the freckles. And her younger sister with the flat feet and flat chest. And her boyfriend whose arms don’t fit around her. None of them quite fit in the world that’s supposedly made for them.
Oops! One of her shoes fell off. I pick a bright pink plastic shoe from the carpet. Smooth and oval, like something Minnie Mouse would wear. I shove it back on her severely arched foot. I’ve seen ancient fertility dolls with the same pointed feet. These dolls were meant to be placed in the earth. They were talismans of abundance. My pink friend has large breasts like those fertility idols. And she has small arms that cannot hold anything. Her pink hairbrush has to be clipped onto her hand. And even then, she cannot brush her hair as she cannot reach her head. But still, she is an icon of abundance. The clothes, shoes, cars, furniture, houses, pools, and even her friends, are all spokes on a wheel around her. They revolve around her very existence.
I grip my hand around her tighter. I move her smiling face back and forth with my other hand. I squeeze her empty head between my thumb and forefinger. It caves in under the pressure. She’s still smiling, even though half of her head is collapsed. Her pointy nose pricks me. I let go of her head and shake her by the waist. I watch her head jerk back and forth. Her hair tumbles around her taffeta shoulders. She’s still smiling. I drop her to the floor. She lands with a thud. Her shoes fly off. I don’t retrieve them this time. I leave the room.
I return with a bottle of professional beauty salon acetone, some q-tips and a shot glass. I pour acetone into the shot glass. I dip the q-tip in it. I stab the q-tip it into one of her starry eyes. I press down hard. The acetone dissolves the paint, leaving streaks of colored tears. I have taken away her vision. I don’t stop until her eyes, eyebrows, cheeks, lips, and teeth, are all erased. Her head is factory new again. The acetone has removed her lipstick, but her face is from a mold and she is still smiling. I strip her of her princess gown. Finger the silky hair and wonder what it would look like green. I carry her to the kitchen.
I put some water to boil on the stove. I place her arms, one at a time, into the water when it begins to spit and sputter. I leave them in the water until they soften. Then I bend them so they can hold things, so they can wrap themselves around a loved one. I run the arms under cold running water so they stay the way I shaped them.
I paint her a new face, listening to what she whispers to me now that she is free from her manufactured self. I paint her expression with tiny paintbrushes and little jars of acrylic paint, the kind used for model cars. I give her eyes like a cat, large and green, with yellow ellipses inside. I paint her eyeliner, deep and heavy like an Egyptian priestess. I add some sigils and runes to her body. Magickal tattoos of creativity and protection. I think about adornment. What kind of jewelry do I no longer wear that might flatter her? What will pay tribute to her new mode of being? I paint her teeth white, but make her lips a dark purple with a silver sheen. I paint her fingernails black.
I use green India Ink to dye her hair, but it washes out easily, so I mix some Burt’s Bees hand salve with some acrylic paint and massage it into her hair. It bunches into little dreadlocks. I give her arched eyebrows that—combined with her dark smile—make her seem as if she’s hatching a secret plan or spell. Of revenge? Of creation? I don’t decide. I let the possibilities remain hers to manifest. She is no longer vacant. She is imbued with power. I sit her on the windowsill. I tell her she is beautiful. I wash my hands. I smile and wink at her as I leave the kitchen to let her dry.
I dig through my sewing scraps and piece together a patchwork dress by hand. I choose fabrics that match her cat eyes. I plunder my jewelry box and find old earrings that will fit her as bracelets. I find silver studs to replace her plastic earrings. I clip the end of a sewing pin, bend it with pliers and pierce her nose with it. I sew tiny pointed boots and place them on her feet. I dress her in her new clothes and tie gold thread around her waist. Finally, I sprinkle very fine gold glitter over her.
She is still smiling. Her eyes will never blink. She will never have flat feet. Her breasts will always be disproportionate to her body. I have not changed these things. But now the stars in her eyes have opened a gate to a new universe. She is avatar, muse, and goddess. She is a voice inside my head. I am a voice inside hers. Together we navigate the realms between the mundane and the magickal.
“God created man, then woman, then the child, and finally the doll. And the greatest of these was the doll.” –Oscar Wilde
Originally published in RFD 124 (Winter).
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i have always loved this piece!
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