A Red Drop Widens on an Otherwise Pristine Page
Once a week, Rebecca drinks a different type of alcohol and writes a rough draft – she edits sober. Last week was Tequila. This week is red wine, Cabernet. A red drop widens on an otherwise pristine page. Take another sip from the third glass because God, your back is screaming. Your knees are loose hinges tick tocking under a table.
Your hands meet, making a bridge from one end of the paper to the other.
In elementary school you learned to draw trees by connecting “V”s. The art teacher topped parallel lines with a V. Vs into Vs into Vs become branches. You’ve been scribbling those in the margins of notes ever since, doodling in programs, brochures, on business cards and in books.
You’d cover whole pages with tree branches in elementary school. The boy one desk over copies your technique. This infuriates you.
Most of Shelton is pastel and bony except for his mouth – spry and beat red, like he’s been sucking on a cherry jolly rancher all day. His gums are double the size of his teeth, and his teeth have yellow halos.
Shelton. That copycat big mouthed butthead, he infuriates you.
Both of your overgrown graphite trees tangle into each other. It’s a rapid weed on your desks, your pencil bags and your lunchboxes. Shelton’s forearms turn gray. Words in novels, worksheets, textbooks fall asleep deep into the branches and never wake up. Everything you touch leaves an ashy smear. The teacher doesn’t take well to this. You and Shelton have to clean the classroom during recess.
You stomp, you whip wipes over tables and chairs, books, the air, the wall, anything. Meanwhile, Shelton stands at the teacher’s desk pulling all the tape out of a tape dispenser and sticking the long pieces on his arms, legs and face. He has a pen taped to his chest.
“What are you doing?” you ask.
“Try it,” he says. He walks over to you and you see his skin fold and unfold under sticky plastic. He pulls the pen off his shirt and draws three V branches on your arm. “Watch this.”
He sticks tape over the marks and pulls it up quick.
“Owaaaaah! That hurt, you tore my hairs off!”
“Getting rid of stuff hurts,” Shelton says. “But look at this, it’s cool!” You look at your arm and gape. Shelton dangles the tape in your face. It’s cloudy except for the tree he’d drawn on you. The tape picked it up and your arm is clean.
Years later, Shelton became a marine. Before you sits a loose-leaf forest, some red wine stained thing.
Stay tuned for next week: