anatomy of a girl @livepoultryfreshkill
anatomy of a girl

IN THE BEGINNING

 

There’s a lonely in the bones of Ramona Flowers. It’s been there ever since she fell into this world, like a birthmark or an extra joint. But no one can see your bones unless you cut yourself open, and you can’t cut yourself open without bleeding out dead. So no one will ever know that lonely, its hermitage will remain undisturbed until those very bones are dry and the meat on them melts into a puddle of girl. And it’s fine, that’s fine, she doesn’t try very hard to fight it. Ramona Flowers burns that lonely for body heat, sitting on her porch waiting for moths to fall at her touch. Ramona Flowers drinks that lonely, eats it, breathes it, and she’s done that for so long she’s not sure if she’d survive without it.

There’s a lonely in the bones of Ramona Flowers. It’s been there ever since she fell into this world, like a birthmark or an extra joint. But no one can see your bones unless you cut yourself open, and you can’t cut yourself open without bleeding out dead. So no one will ever know that lonely, its hermitage will remain undisturbed until those very bones are dry and the meat on them melts into a puddle of girl. And it’s fine, that’s fine, she doesn’t try very hard to fight it. Ramona Flowers burns that lonely for body heat, sitting on her porch waiting for moths to fall at her touch. Ramona Flowers drinks that lonely, eats it, breathes it, and she’s done that for so long she’s not sure if she’d survive without it.

 

It was there when she was 7, and no one would play with her because her hair was too long.  It was there when she had her bat mitzvah, uncomfortable family members with their stares tight around her neck like a too-small wool sweater. It was there in seventh grade, when she dated a boy just because he could hit good, not because she actually liked his too-heavy eyeliner or fingerless gloves. It will be there, she supposes, when she is married with children, when she is 800 years old in a rocking chair, when she is in the ground with rocks in her mouth and fingernails that won’t stop growing. It’s in her teeth, but not in her nose. Skeletons are funny that way.

 

Like a good mother, she tends to her (yes, hers , because she feels she should get something of her own) lonely, feeding it full with her favorite lovers and their too-warm skin. But those calories burn away once she remembers that no one wants those hollowed out bones, just the soft flesh they carry. So she finds another victim, like a vampire, draining their bodies for sustenance. And they’re willing, they’re always willing, because you can never underestimate what people will do for a kiss on the neck.

NOW THIS

NOW THIS

 

“I dunno… Maybe we can get somewhere together,” and that’s Scott Pilgrim, poor sap, the kindest asshole on earth, “Maybe we can get un stuck.”

 

Ramona Flowers says nothing. Ramona Flowers doesn’t meet his eyes. She isn’t good for him, she’s told him, a hundred times she’s told him, but he doesn’t listen. She is more lonely than girl, more cancer than body. And she nearly got someone she loved (and liked, someone who bothered her and loved her even when she dyed her hair, someone who kissed between her shoulder blades and sung her to sleep) killed.

 

“We’d have to be careful… It could be a bumpy ride,” he warns her, because he does listen, he listens so closely he can hear what she doesn’t say, “It could get messy.” So she looks at him, and they’re suddenly no longer conquerors or outlaws or heroes or villains. It all falls away until Scott and Ramona are just twenty-somethings, who have done some things, good and bad, just like everybody else. Her bones become solid in that moment, and he holds her in his brown eyes. 

 

“But maybe… Maybe it’d be worth it.” You’d be worth it, Ramona, sitting on a bench eating burritos; you’d be worth it, Ramona, lying next to me with your green hair circling your head like a halo. You are worth it, Ramona, and I am too. We’re trying to be, at least. “Maybe we just need to hold on.”

 

Scott Pilgrim is a man how Ramona Flowers is a woman: hard-earned, handmade, almond in a peanut shell-type deal. They have different bodies, different souls, but the story is the same: boy meets girl, boy is a girl, girl meets boy who used to be a girl. She’s had stories like that, with Todd Ingrahms and Matthew Patels and Lucas Lees (who can’t let anyone know how hard he worked to get where he is or he’ll never make it anywhere in this business). And they get it better than the other men who hunt her for sport, but they’re still men, still people, and she’s still a body lying prone. But she sees Scott, and knows he’s a better man than any of them. He’s worked not just for his body, but for his heart, and it shows.

 

“I’ve never been good at holding on,” admits Ramona Flowers, because she’s never been one for falsifying your credentials. Scott’s heart is lighting up the whole elevator, their own personal golden hour.

 

“Hey, you’ll get it,” he smiles, and it’s stupid and warm and worn, like leather, like a favorite jacket, “it just takes practice.”

 

Ramona Flowers wants to cry, but she smiles back, because she wants to try. She will try to be a real girl, and hold on, because honestly, how bad could it hurt?

BUT BEFORE THAT

BUT BEFORE THAT

 

There is a fly in the veins of Ramona Flowers. Flies, plural, probably. Buzzing under her skin, the miniscule barbs on its hairy legs tearing up the thin membrane holding her together; laying maggots in her heart, to expedite the rotting process. No matter how much Raid she drinks, they are there, and every time she pinches, hard, to feel more than hear the sickening crunch inside the skin between her fingers, another appears. It makes her itch. It makes her itchy, scratchy, bitchy; it makes her angry and flighty, and dirty, infecting every wound she has. It’s a constant burn, like the eternal bone-ache, and the blood on their little fly feet stains her sheets. 

 

Other girls, pretty girls, who don’t have to try even a little, these girls Ramona Flowers knows don’t have bugs in their bodies. They don’t itch like her, but they do scratch her back, if she asks nicely. Ramona Flowers needs other people to scratch where she can’t reach (right between her shoulder blades, right behind her heart) because they always seem to do it better than her. Especially the boys with dyed hair and the girls with black lipstick, they always claw at her the hardest. That’s when the buzzing gets so loud she feels herself leave that awful, rotting body, she is third-person omniscient, she is God, and God watches that friend who held her hand rip her skin to shreds, blissed out and drooling. 

 

Because Ramona Flowers needs to kiss all of her friends, to make sure that she never really has one. That title is a four letter word to her, it’s this intangible thing, and Ramona Flowers deals only in absolutes. It is black or white, up or down, go or stay. And she never picks up, she never picks stay. There’s no ‘because’, Ramona doesn’t know why. She wishes she does. 

 

Ramona Flowers needs to fuck all her friends, because she never learned how to show someone she loves them unless she holds them inside her. She’s slutty, sure. Skanky, maybe. But a whore? Never. She gives it away for free (only if you don’t want it, because why wouldn’t you want it? what’s so wrong with me that you don’t want it?), except for when she doesn’t.

BACK THEN

BACK THEN

 

“I’ll always be there if you need me, you know.” Don’t bare your neck, you’re soft, and I’m sorry.

 

“I know.” Please paint my nails, I’m cold, and you’re scared of me.

 

Roxy Richter laughs, a giggle-snort Ramona knows she’s self conscious about. “I’m sure you do, Mona.” Ramona Flowers looks up at Roxy, head resting on her lap, and watches eyes trace her body so quickly you’d miss it if you weren’t looking for it. But Ramona Flowers is always looking for it.

 

Ramona Flowers feels that faint heat of desire radiate off Roxy’s skin, basks in it, because she is an orchid and if she isn’t cared for she can die very quickly. She is a garden, ripe, and that fruit needs to be picked or it will rot. Roxy has very strong hands, still soft to the touch. She could pick those berries without bruising them, Ramona knows. 

 

Roxy is the same kind of girl as Ramona, built from the ground up, every inch of her body painted just so. The kind of girl who will always be afraid of being a boy. The girl who had to pay for her skin, and feels like she will pay for it every day for the rest of her life. That might just be Ramona, though. Roxy seems happy. It makes Ramona hate her a little, resent her for knowing something Ramona doesn’t. She’s skinnier than Roxy but somehow she has worm-eaten holes in her heart. This green-eyed monster makes it easy for Ramona to do this, because it will put her back on top.

 

Ramona guides her hand over her thigh and up her skirt, because she doesn’t want Roxy around when she does need her. Not like that, she wouldn’t know what to do with her like that. And so one girl swallows the other whole and puts her away with the rest of the corpses she’s sucked dry, like a spider with a web full of dead bugs.

 

Roxy Richter tears her apart, limb from limb. She tries to shake out all those flies and maggots but she can’t. Roxy Richter wipes her mouth and says thank you, after it’s all over, and Ramona closes her eyes and says nothing. Another head for the wall, she supposes.

MUCH LATER

MUCH LATER

 

Ramona Flowers has water in her lungs, because nobody’s imperfect all the time. She can’t always be hurting, she can’t always be cold, sometimes she indulges in the delusion that she can be a real girl. She tries, and she really believes it for a second, until her boyfriend puts a chip in her neck and she moves to Toronto. Then she tries again, and even though it’s messy and not what she thought it would be, it’s happening.

 

She has to fight for it, this time, she has to break her nails to hold on to it. And it’s true that she’s never been good at holding on, but this time she does. Scott does too, Kim does, she finds more love on her lips and in her eyes than she knows what to do with. She learns not to be afraid of it anymore (she tries, at least). She fights for her friends, for her lovers, old and new: she fights for herself . Inside that deep dark space, where Gideon Graves has tied her leash, she meets every Ramona Flowers she has ever known, and holds their hands, and tells them she’s sorry for everything she’s done to them. They say the same thing. 

 

And then it’s over. And she has to love herself without reason. And she will, and she will love others, and she will take off her skin (because that’s how much I love you). She will be there for the negatives and the positives, every version of every person. She will be there for mundane Mondays, sleepy Sundays, Tuesday nights where you have work in the morning so no, Wallace, we can’t go drinking. She will be a real girl, as messy and bloody as that is. 

 

She holds hands with a boy, and he’s a little dumb and a little sad, but he makes her laugh and plays bass in his shitty band. She holds hands with the drummer, and she’s a little mean and a little short, but she helps Ramona Flowers dye her hair for the sixth time that month and has a heart so big and heavy that she can barely move it. She holds hands with Stephen Stills, and he’s a little quiet and a little gay, but he listens to her when she doesn’t want to say anything and he’s been in love with music since he was five years old. She holds hands with her boyfriend’s cool roommate, and he’s a little drunk and a little slutty but he is the first friend she has ever had (probably because she can’t kiss him even if she wanted to.) 

 

He takes her out for Canadian sushi and tells her she’s too good for him, and when they walk home the snow falls silently and she hears from in between the snowflakes that she is not the only person in the world to have aches and pains.

SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN IT ALL

SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN IT ALL

 

“It’s not true, you know,” he tells her, the soft leather of his glove warm against her red hand. “Some of them are the same.”

 

“That’s kinda depressing, Wallace.”

 

“Really?” He puts both of their hands into his pocket. “I think it’s nice. It’d be a pretty lonely existence, otherwise.”

 

He’s right. When you die, your eyes roll back, but your hair doesn’t stop growing. No one really knows if the locks on a coffin really work. It’s up to chance. It’s up to God. It’s up to the pattern the water crystallizes in, and it’s up to who sees it. So maybe no one can ever see that lonely, or that fly, or that water that rises up to your neck, but you can tell them about it. So you’re a little sick, and you’re a little shattered, and if you don’t run away now you’ll throw up. Throw up, then. Let him hold your hair back. Let someone see you bare, not naked, but bare; plainclothes, crying, sitting in a snowbank that’s soaking both of your pants because you have somewhere to live now.

 

“Hey, sweetie, it’s okay,” Wallace shushes her gently, another handmade man, built from the rib of Eve, hands smaller than hers rubbing her back through her jacket. “Don’t cry too hard, your face will get all puffy.”

 

“Is it,” Ramona asks in a watery rasp, sniffing, “is it p-puffy?” She bites back another sob.

 

“Yeah, but you’ve got a nice ass, so it balances out.” She smacks him, laugh-crying, and buries her head in his shoulder. She feels guilty for getting Wallace all wet, but not for crying. She feels proud of all these baby steps she’s taken.

 

Ramona Flowers has skin and bones, guts and gristle, tears that leak onto her best friend’s scarf. Ramona Flowers is a living, breathing person, and she has people who will never let her heart stop beating. 

 

She’s never had that before. She’s pretty sure she likes it.

SO.

SO.

 

So. 

 

So she’s a golden girl, with a golden boy, and she doesn’t count the carats. So she’s an okay singer, with a more-than-okay drummer, and she’s got more love than she knows what to do with. So she’s two inches taller than her best friend, and he’s the only one who knows how much she likes disco music, or how bad she is at roller skating. So the sun will swallow the earth someday and the moon will collide into Venus and everything will turn into a black hole and implode. So Ramona Flowers is having a nice day with the people she loves.

 

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