Cristal watched empty streets through the classroom windows. The weather looked fierce but she couldn't hear anything over the drone of the heaters, the drone of Sister Agnostina chanting through the lesson: Saint John the Baptist, and willful Salome.(more)
The rain came down at a sideways slant and the trees bent sideways in the wind, reminding Cristal of her mother when she did aerobics.
Cristal knew her name was a fancy alcohol. Her parents bought Baby Duck. Bols vodka. But they were drinking good champagne the night Cristal was made, one New Year's Eve at the house of a friend. This was the legend.
Cristal's mother wore only white clothing. Jumpsuits from Juicy, white Lee jeans, white hoodies. She did laundry every day and wore things only twice before shopping for replacements.
"Feel that, baby?" she'd mutter as they walked to the bus stop. Her mother's head would be held so high her hair looked extra-long, tumbling in bedraggled, laborious curls down her back. Out-thrust jaw her centre of gravity. Pink-plastic lips.
"That's their jealousy you feel."
Cristal imagined blinds on the other trailers shifting to the side, the envious or lustful gazes directed at her mother.
"That slut," her father said, when he smelled like his Bols . Other times he was all moony and neck-nuzzly.
Every morning, there was a show on TV. Cristal's mother dressed up for it: legwarmers, a bathing suit, her hair jutting from her head in two youthful-seeming ponytails. "Time to get fit, baby," she'd shout, if Cristal was home from school sick. Poke in the belly. Cristal felt her tummy splurge on either side of her mother's sharp nail.
"Work it out with me, work it out." Beauty was exorcism. It was a self-conscious loneliness.(less)
Wilson the black cat squeezed through the tight gap in the fence to arrive at an unfamiliar house. He sniffed the grassy backyard. There didn't appear to be a sign of any domestic animal life. Birds and hedgehogs sure, but no other cats, and thankfully no dogs. Wilson jumped(more) into the open sill and squeezed through yet another gap. There was a reason why Wilson could make it through these impossibly tight openings. Yes, he was a cat, it was one of his natural abilities. But his frail frame helped out here too. Most other cats wouldn't make it through what with the meals their owners feed them. Wilson was a bedraggled, homeless cat of skin and bone. It had always been this way. Born a kitten and abandoned under a house Wilson had to fend for himself. It was lucky he was so cunning. The rest of his brothers and sisters passed away. Sadly Wilson couldn't take care of them all. He only had enough cunning to look after himself. And times were getting harder. His one dumpster dive behind the restaurant was now a no go since it's closure. Women's fashion doesn't quite have the same taste. So here was Wilson exploring beyond his normal jurisdiction. It took a while to find an open home. So many people were security conscious these days. Wilson jumped down onto the toilet seat, making certain not to fall in. It had happened before, and it was not easy getting out again. Wilson sniffed the air and found his way towards the kitchen. There it lay on the counter, a great big chicken defrosting on a platter. Wilson licked his chops. Before he could climb the counter a hand scooped him off his feet, and he felt life squeezed out of him.(less)