Deep Fried Butter
Yesterday, all she wanted to do was shoot me with this purple water gun I bought at a yard sale. I was wearing a red dress, on my way to a birthday party, and I went to the backyard to make sure the valve of the garden hose wasn’t leaking. It wasn’t. I twisted it tighter just in case and then she soaked me right through to my underwear. I told her to piss off.
I had to wear a different dress, I had to wear the pink one you bought me for my eleventh with Taylor. I cursed you because you managed to the pick the only colour besides orange that makes my dry skin look like deep fried butter. I hope you felt it.
When I got home she was in between the basement cushions watching the 11 o’clock news with Martha Allen. She says all the time that Martha looks a little like you and when I ask her if it’s a good thing she doesn’t answer, this kid. I only see you in the brown hair, maybe the bridge of her nose. The gun was nestled between her thighs, barrel pointing into the space between the cushions. What, she asked when she caught me staring at her. Her eyes are your eyes, but deader. Piss off, I said, and I shut off the TV.
Bye Martha, she said. Or something about Martha. This kid.
She asked if I could get her apple juice and I grabbed her by the t-shirt sleeve, demanded the gun in my hand because it looked disgusting sitting there. No, she said, it’s mine. I don’t know where kids learn that. It’s mine it’s mine. Why do they get to own the world, and all the people in it?
Apple juice, she said, can I have some apple juice?
Before I looked for the juice boxes, I wrestled my dress off upstairs. I looked for you in the closet but of course you were in Paris. There was a little brown stain on the foot of the bed from where I spilled coffee the morning you hung up the phone; it’s still there but it’s lost its colour.
The window of my bedroom was open and the neighbor’s redheaded kids, Allie and Jeff, were probably spying on me. I was past caring by then, the folds, the flesh, all of it. It’s all been seen before. Nothing embarrassed me anymore.
I stared at the brown stain and I put my hand on it. My hands were already starting to flake from the eczema. I inherited that from Dad, but you were lucky. So I cursed you once more and put on some aloe cream. A full-body rotation in the mirror assured me I wasn’t flaking anywhere else. Allie and Jeff would’ve had a field day with that.
By the time I got downstairs to give her the apple juice she was hiding behind the couch and sprayed me with the gun, all over the front of my jeans.
Screw you, I said to her, but only in my head. She heard my thoughts and she laughed because she’s allowed to do whatever she wants. She owns me like you did. There’s one thing I can stand about her, and it’s this: my skin today, it’s peeled and cracked in all the places but my face. Yet when she flounces into my room and I’m naked she still says the same thing she’s always said to me every morning.
She says, “Auntie Rona, what’s for breakfast?”
Maybe today I’ll do what you did, and tell her something nice like, “whatever you want.” I’ll tell her if she puts the gun away, I’ll make her pancakes without whole-wheat flour, as many as she wants.
Hadiyyah Kuma is an emerging writer of creative non-fiction and fiction from Toronto, and the editor of Double-Take Magazine for young creatives.
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