Sunshine was a chicken-boned girl with a sloppy scrawling mouth
in sickening pallorous red that slipped over the edges of her face
like a venous Alabama highway map.
her eyes were round and goggling, spliced with arrows and pupils all pointing in every direction at once. her hair was not hair at all, but low-grade gasoline, green at the roots; at the very least she was free of chiggers.
when she walked, her knees cracked like a pick-up truck driving full-force over a deer carcass.
she never seemed fully awake, as if somewhere in her marrow she was still dreaming-- to her we were only nightmare denizens, shades of memory or fantasy, smoke settled over bones in the shape of flesh. that was the only attention she paid us, aside from screaming fits, which may or may not have been directed at us anyway.
i didn't know exactly where she lived. somewhere downtown in the worst slum that ever leaked into existance under the lazy-lidded eyes of Child Services. i knew they burned styrofoam for heat. there were other whispers of her mother slaughtering stray dogs for lunchmeat and Christmas gifts. i'd seen her mother, with that same mouth, only hers opened to nowhere, nothing. a toothless chasm of quarrelous wind that the police knew too well. she was insane. she wore it in her skin and it hung heavily in her scent like a wax. there was no father. just Sunshine, her mother, and a bunch of dead dogs.
today Sunshine smelled like dirt.
sometimes it was hospital fluid.
makes me wonder where she slept at night.
today she had lashed blue masking tape over arms in criss-crossing patterns and said they were tattoos. at lunch, she ate a spider and said it was fried chicken. she smiled with twitching legs escaping easily through her slanted teeth. it's not as if she was talking to anyone. it's just when she does talk, we all get quiet, as if to make room for her gurgling in our over-structured verbal landscape. she took a wrecking ball to our gossip, swearing, and scheduling while we stood immobile.
only she didn't rebuild. no, she squatted over the remains, picking through debris for something solid and metallic to pocket.
she fed on our normalcy and spun dreamscapes with her vacant fingers,
reducing the world as i knew it to a violent scribble floating on dirt-breath. i was real only to hear her noise;
because once in awhile her eyes would drift over my form and my bones would dissipate, leaving my flesh in a pile on the floor like laundry, and she would look on me like a mother looks on her child, disgusted but loving,
and i would sleep in death's hesitation, a drydeep inhale, paused video furiously maintaining stillness,
only to wake the next day
wearing a tablecloth as a dress.