A quick excerpt from the second apartment in Eidolon Avenue: The Second Feast, coming March 26th.
“Hazlo!” he said. The girl shoved another handful into her mouth and, her cheeks bulging like a cartoon chipmunk, grabbed the mask and, kneeling on the mattress, her bony thighs pressed against her shoulder, plopped it over her face.
As she lay hours later in her bed on Eidolon, she remembered it smelled like wet dirt, that mask. And moldy cardboard. And that it didn’t fit. There’d been no strap to secure it around her head, the little girl seeming not to care that the chipped plastic didn’t rest flush against her cheeks and chin and that whatever gas was being pumped from the dented metal cylinder through the duct-taped tube wasn’t really reaching her nose. She remembered taking deeper breaths, desperate for the sedative to work, ignoring the panicked thought that it might not.
The first incision had been made while she was still awake and aware, the hurried slice under her breast long and deep. The shocking sensation of air meeting exposed flesh feeling like the coldest of winters, the sudden gush of blood staining skin like molten lava.
“Aqui! Aqui!” he’d said. The little girl had grabbed a handful of gauze and dabbed, swiped, wiped the blood away.
She’d closed her eyes, begging the sedative to work. Imagined how round and full her tits would look. How luscious they’d be. Dreamt of the boyfriend’s eyes filling with desire as she stood naked and perfect in the glow of the moon. Of him coming to her, hungry with need, as she laid back, her arms open and willing to receive his embrace, his love, his lust.
At some point, a needle stabbed her arm and then the thin flesh around her ribs, her armpits, her collar bone. The man muttered and spit as he’d shoved her new tits into place. Through the sedated chill, she could feel the flap of skin lifted, the silicon sack slid under and forced into place. There’d been staples, then. Rude and quick. And stitching. Impatient, clumsy. The fog lifting, only just, with cold ice taking a hard turn toward fire. And pain.
She remembered gasping and gritting her teeth, willing the tears away.
At some point, when they’d turned her over–hips down on the mattress, forehead resting on a crate, ass up on pillow with her new tits bandaged and resting in-between, the floor below cradling her nipples–the pain was so great it’d been muted. As if it was happening far from her. As if her body wasn’t hers. Her soul, who she was, so much more than this butchered pile of wounded flesh lying on a soiled mattress being manhandled by an irate old man while a little girl sat nearby munching cereal out of a dingy plastic bowl.
At some point she accepted that beauty was agony and this temporary misery would be worth it.
Or maybe the sedatives were kicking back in.
“You’ll bleed,” the woman from the corner told her afterward. She’d been right, of course. The woman who’d stepped into the light long enough to push her half-drugged bandaged butt out the door was thick and short. The eyes narrow slits of casual cruelty. The thin lips capped by a light dusting of dark hair, a thick mole laying claim to her rounded chin. “And the stitches will weep,” she said as she jammed ibuprofen into her hand and readied to close the door. “Keep everything clean, come back in seven days to get the staples removed and then don’t ever come back.” A brief pause as the woman’s eyes met hers. “I don’t know you.”
The door slammed shut followed by a click, click, click as the locks were bolted.
Somehow she’d walked home. Somehow, through the drugs and the numbness and the dull, growing threat of excruciating pain, she’d found herself on familiar ground. Had looked up to see the corner dive with its flickering neon sign, and then, a moment later, the dented metal door to Eidolon. Had climbed the stairs, slow and careful, to 2B and stood alone at the bed peeling the blood-stained clothes from her weeping skin. The shirt, the sweatpants, both sodden and stained yellow and orange, green and red. The shirt, the sweatpants, ruined, refusing to release her wounds, the bandaging useless, her fingers nudging fabric from flesh, inch by painful inch.
Then the hours desperate for sleep. For rest. The hours with a pillow shoved under the small of her back, her fists gripping the sheets as she counted her breaths, long and slow. Ice packs on her boobs. Bags of frozen peas and carrots slid beneath her ass. The constant cold acknowledged and felt, though all but worthless.
And soon, minutes, perhaps hours, later, the regret.
Regret with becoming a walking skeleton.
Regret with changing natural brown to fake-ass blonde.
Regret with silencing her voice and killing her joy.
And huge, agonizing regret with laying on a blood-stained mattress in a basement a short walk from Eidolon with an old man pawing her while a young girl crunched dry cereal in a corner.
All this for a boyfriend. A cruel boyfriend. An unkind boyfriend. Someone who perhaps might not be–who probably isn’t, who probably never was–worth it.
Like an old friend, it came then. Drew close. Stood at the bed, gentle and sweet. An unseen kindness gliding from the corner and stealing from the shadows to kneel beside her. The voice unknown but familiar. A comfort offering a clear moment of sharp clarity. A whisper rising from the walls, the floor, those rust-colored fingers staining the corners high above, to surround her in a much-needed embrace.
The faint sound of its small voice parting the stabbing in her tits, slipping past the stinging agony in her backside and pushing aside the doubt, regret, fear stealing her thoughts to move close, the words warm and wet against her ear, to whisper
He can change, too.