Featured Review on this writing by Sue Harris

A Moment for Marcela

Reads: 129  | Likes: 4  | Shelves: 4  | Comments: 4

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: May 18, 2018

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Submitted: May 18, 2018

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Death should scare me, I guess.

 

I fiddle with the condom. Six shades paler than my skin, its latex slips between my fingers, coating them with slick spermicide. BlechSmells of new Barbie plucked from its package. Or hospital gloves straight from the box, entirely sanitized compared to my room — a curtain-drawn-lair. Dirty enough Mom’s asked me over a million and two times to tidy it. Keep it sanitized, she constantly says. As if that’s my priority. Cleaning the one place I can express myself when everything and everyone, especially me, is snowballing in ten different awful layers of change.

 

I inhale a strangled breath, tuning out the dishes clinking outside my room. Besides, I happen to like the seven piles of unwashed clothes crumpled on my puke-colored carpet, the charcoal sketches of sword-wielding chicas hanging on my art easel and the stacks of unfinished homework littered on my unmade bed. And if you think that’s bad, my attached bathroom’s worse. Wet towels litter each terra-cotta-tiled corner. Bloody tissues and pill bottles billow from the cross-stamped waste basket while week-old toothpaste, splattered on the mirror, distorts my dark sunken eyes, the crucifix dangling from my tanned neck and the straps on my green tank-top, lazily drooping on my bruised shoulders. Better I barely see my reflection anyway.

 

Call me brave. Call me bored. Call me a lot bit brain-dead. Truth is, I don’t care anymore. Least that’s what I keep telling the fourteen-year-old girl weeping inside me. Only I’m not sure how much longer I can repress her.

 

I suction the top of the condom over the faucet.

 

“Fill ‘er up.” Pippy, my bestie, saunters through my bedroom door and closes it behind her.

 

Her wavy hair, shiny beneath the vanity lights, matches a silky brown truffle bouncing in a pot of melted chocolate, beautiful in a soul-clenching way. Sore to my scalp, my locks one night tugged out, clumps heavy in my fists. So I shaved it all off. Molded myself into a Latina Q-tip. Cause why not? Gotta own who I’ve become and pretend it doesn’t bother me; Pippy’s untouched youth. Adolescent dreams of first prom. First kiss. First love. Stolen from me without my consent. My entire existence crashed into chaotic disaster that morning Dr. Brady diagnosed me with stage-three acute myeloid leukemia. Forgive me, the downer I’m sharing. The grief clawing through me, chipping at my bone marrow bit by bit. Sucks I know, like a moldy Sour-patch-kid. I blink a hot tear aside before Pippy notices.

 

She props my iPad atop the sink, the spicy scent of red-beans suddenly wafting from beneath my door.

 

.

 

She frowns. “You’re not up for this.”

 

“Sure I am.” I paste on my smile, ignoring my gurgling gut and the whiffs of Mom’s authentic frijoles rancheros that I used to devour. Mexican food’s ruined for me now. Forget the flan, the carne asada, even the coconut horchata shrimp. Give me a steaming heap of mushed broccoli instead. Maybe a side of chicken stock to wash it down. Cheer me up with something else. A hug. A kind word. A set of graphite pencils so I can illustrate my gritty-girl comics.

 

Pippy rubs my arm. “Think how many subscribers you’ll have after this.”

 

 Whoop-dee-frikin’-doo! Fist pump to my ten-thousand YouTube followers. Add another two-hundred-grand to my Gofundme account while you’re at it. She’s the reason I started this video-log — my Mom. Won’t leave her penniless, weighed down by my hefty medical bills when she’s already accepting tips under the table while struggling to obtain her green-card.

 

I hobble to my toes, my legs aching. 

 

"Here." Pippy assists me to the tub where I prop myself on the edge. 

 

My hands shaking, I clasp them together while Pippy upsizes my YouTube channel.

 

She focuses the camera on me, then taps record.

 

“Hey, hey. So lit to see my gorgeous YouTubeians.” I muster my hoarse voice. “Welcome to Marcela’s Mania. Where I talk truth and you bring hope. Got some sick news. I survived my second chemo treatment. Props to me!” Pippy claps as she climbs in the shower and stands behind me. “That’s not the gucciest thing tho. Today. In honor of Luekemia awareness month, I’m asking you to donate five dollars. Think one Starbucks drink. Hashtag celebrate Marcela’s success. And to make it Guccier? Take the condom challenge with us.”

 

Course it’s silly. Not the raising money part. The challenge itself, a twist on the old-fashioned ballon fight — a hilarious way to spend the time I wish I still had. I shudder in a breath as Pippy lifts the sloshing condom. My cracked lips sealed. My blotched cheeks puffed. She drops it. Cool water douses me, the condom engulfing my bald head as if I dunked my face in a pool. Or a soft goldfish bowl. I attempt blowing. Bubbles blip from my nose, showing on my iPad, funnier than watching a fish chase its tail.

 

It breaks once Pippy pokes the condom. Water, spilling down my shoulders, soaks my tank top and my pink capris.

 

“Remember to donate, peeps.” I manage between giggling inhales. “Marcela out.”

 

 Pippy swipes off the viral feed, giggling with me. A joyous sound. Deep in my lungs, my hearty laugh warps into cries. Shrill. Strong. Snot dripping from my flaring nostrils. Tears welling in my eyes. I lean into Pippy’s arms, letting her embrace me. Comfort me. The real me. The raw me. The me I no longer restrain. She shatters to the surface in a crazed rage that drags to me to my knees and clanks my crucifix on my trembling chest. I sob in my palms.

 

Death should scare me, I guess. That’s what surprises my fans. My optimism. They often text: how do you deal? I don’t. It’s a giddy act I’ll continue to play until my name is etched in stone.


© Copyright 2018 Joy Shaw. All rights reserved.

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