I sat at the lunch table trying to eat my tuna fish sandwich. I clumsily gripped the soft wheat bread between my fingers, pinching too hard and leaving mushy prints. I lifted the sandwich and jammed it messily into my mouth. I chewed for a few moments and swallowed uncomfortably. My friends sat around me chatting and laughing. My eyes swelled in my sockets as I observed, watering as I moistened and clogged the bread into my epiglotas.
Their conversation was like a ping pong match because their words bounced across the table and there wasn't any reason for anyone to be sweating. I felt guilty perspiring all over my new outfit. I subtly shifted my arms a little, hoping that creating an airflow would lessen the potential for B.O.
I laughed too loudly at things that weren't meant to be funny. My friends looked at me and rolled their eyes. One of them muttered, "Is that your real laugh?" Do you really think that it's fake? Why would I choose this laugh voluntarily? I grappled at their conversation, trying to hang afloat, like a kitten being shoved off a boat in the middle of a sea of toilet water. They talked about movies I hadn't seen and comic books I hadn't read. I yelped and muttered things semi-on topic but still strikingly obtuse, thought bubbles in a different color creeping out from my cloudy alien brain.
I felt like a puppy begging for attention and getting routinely pushed face first under the table, out of the way. I said several stupid remarks about the table, lunch, my friend's hair. It felt like they were all speaking French and I only knew four French words. I kept listening to their conversation, trying to keep up and blurting out whenever I heard something familiar. Burning with embarrassment I shoved food into my face just to stop myself from talking.
We thought things would have been different after Abby was gone. That they would start noticing me and treating me like her. She had been the bell of the ball, if by ball I mean every group of people in social situations you could possibly imagine that would make you anxious and feel like a bloated freaky cow. She was the bell of the balls of society and society had giant disgusting throbbing blue balls for pretty outgoing girls like her. After she left, I assumed I would get her treatment. I don't think they even noticed. They were treating me the same way, as a weird annoyance.
Now Jennifer was the leader. She was the new Abby. Jennifer was beautiful, smart, adorable, friendly, loud, outgoing, charming, charismatic, and wonderful. Why hadn't I seen it before? She was more the lovable leader than Abby ever was. I watched her as she spoke, pretty perfect lips formed clear clever sentences. When she said something people quieted down, turned to her, and listened. Watching them listening to her was like sex, because it happens to me so rarely when it does I usually mess up.
Walking home I thought obsessively about Jennifer, re-imagining what it would be like to be her. I thoughtfully lusted after the way she talked and the way people listened in a friendly manner. I enviously mused over how she rarely said something stupid, accidentally mean, or uncomfortable.
Each step felt clumsy, like it wasn't mine anymore. My feet wobbled like jello on the harsh sidewalk, my bones slipping inside my mushy feet. A sick swelling rose in my entire body. I wanted to scream at the ugly flowers on my neighbors lawn, "why not me? why never me!" I fought the urge to throw up and my face slid slightly out of place on my anxious head.
I let myself inside and walked up into my room. In front of the full length mirror I looked into Abby's disheveled uncomfortable face. Her silent lips hung sad and useless on my jaw. I reached for the zipper and unzipped Abby's skin suit. It fell in a lumpy pile to the ground. I stepped out of it, naked. I avoided eye contact with my own body in the mirror. The cold breeze sweetly nestled against my flubby, sweaty stomach. My hair, drenched in the inner moistness of Abby's skin, was pulled into a clammy ponytail.
I kicked Abby's skin suit to the side of my room. I didn't want to be that girl anymore. It was futile. I opened the window wider to wash out the scent of her decaying epidermis. Her blood dribbled on the hardwood floor in tiny freckles. I was slightly embarrassed at how disgusting I was. Anyone who would come in would think I was a sick freak, for leaving her skin like that on the floor instead of taking it down to the basement with the rest of her. But I was too tired and lazy to care.
I climbed into my soft comfortable flannel pajamas. I sighed when I got into bed, reveling in the familiar. I watched cars dance by my home outside my window, twinkling lights whispering me to sleep like so many ghosts of murdered fireflies. My head swam with dreams of tomorrow and I lazily eyed my knife on the counter. I would be loved soon enough. As I shut my eyes and peacefully sang a little lullaby to myself about cats with peacock feathers as hair. I wondered if it would be a problem that Jennifer was much thinner than I. Then I remembered a tool I head for stretching fabric out. I smiled and sank away from everything into sleep.