As an apology for the lack of fiction posts for a little while, here's something a bit longer (and weirder) than usual from Rebecca:
Sticky children with sticky hands; gumming up book pages with grasping, greedy little fingers. Tapping on the pet shop cages (clack! clack! clack! Mommy I want one of those!) where shell-shocked multi-colour rodents cower in plastic houses. Cramming their stubby, chubby digits into their stubby, chubby noses… Sticky children are the worst of all.
Halloween… Faces caked in paint, fake blood and too much chocolate oozing down onto ragged bin-liner capes and pillow-case costumes. Fingers grasping (always grasping! always wanting more!) sticky sweeties, clutching handfuls of melted drumstick lollies, toffee coated apples, heat-deformed milk chocolate mice. Banging on doors with insatiable fists (trickle treat mister!). Throwing eggs while someone cowers behind the unwelcoming door. Viscous yolk and fragments of shell dripping onto doorsteps.
And Christmas? Shaking, poking, pawing at foil-wrapped boxes, sloppy kisses for distant relatives (on the cheek? on the lips? come kiss gran’ma precious!) with greasy turkey-smeared faces. Chocolate santas with chocolate reindeer melting under plastic trees to be smeared over walls, floors, faces… Even the snow (the crisp, clean, magnificent snow), torn up to make snowballs and snowmen, yellow snow, full of filth, turning to muddy slush in clammy mittened hands.
Even Summer days! Hours spent trailing sunscreen and melting ice-cream along overcrowded beaches, prodding demoralized donkeys with plastic spades and pawing at gaudy postcards (wish you were here…) with vinegar and chip-grease hands. Running in parks with muddy knees poking through frayed jeans or fixing bikes, smeared with brake oil.
Oh, and the parents! Oh god, the adults… Reeking of cheap perfumes masking stale sweat and desperation they oil their hair and paint their faces. Yellow nails chewed to the quick, flaking multicoloured varnish. Preening, pointing, smoking, stroking, scratching crotches and fluffing hair with ever-vacant faces…
The thought of them repulses me! Tugging on the hem of my sleeve with grubby hands, grimy fingers; ruffling my hair as they smile their wide, white smiles. I shudder even thinking about them. Kisses hello, kisses goodbye, greasy spittle-coated lips puckered out (pucker up!). Touching, touching, always touching… Unavoidable! Inescapable! Intolerable!
That is why I am going to wrap myself.
I start at the feet, pulling the clear plastic as tight as I can. I am wearing gloves so I am leaving no fingerprints behind. No defilement. I wrap the plastic around both legs, pressing them together, working up towards the knee.
I used to watch them from the window as they walked by; chewing gum like cows with cud, open-mouthed, blowing multicolour spit bubbles (pop! spit! start all over). Or taking loud gulps from brightly coloured bottles, passing them round, sharing spittle with a friend.
I bind the knees tightly, overlapping the plastic edges, round and round. Several layers thick; the roll is plenty thick. I will be impenetrable, untouchable in my armour. I will be like a paladin; pure and untainted. I pull the plastic taut over my thighs, my hips.
A plastic cocoon. My chrysalis. I am wrapping myself like a larvae. Once I am inside, tightly bound, maybe inside I will change, transform myself. Maybe I will emerge someday as someone else. Maybe then I will understand the joy of these little daily contaminations…
I wrap my waist, my chest. My feet are tingling. I ignore them. I wrap my shoulders, slower now, struggling to move. No more sticky fingers, no more grabbing, grasping hands, smearing, sticking, greasing my skin. I wrap my neck. My breath rasps in my throat (in…out...in…out…).
See what they have made me do? Squeezing every orange on the shelf, tapping every apple (here’s your change mister! wiping his face on the back of his hand). Licking the plate clean, gravy dripping down their chins. Licking their fingers when they turn the page. Sucking their fingers when they bleed. Kissing it better… Kissing only makes it worse.
I wrap my head...