Who doesn’t love the sweater girls at the Fair?
They look like peaches.
They smell like bread baking and the icing on cakes.
They are warm, yet delicate like sunlight through a car window that rests in the palm of your hand.
Not solid really—
Their flesh barely reaches the outline of their bodies.
Their edges blur.
They are ephemerally beautiful, impossible to pin down…
and no one suspects their dishonesty.
The lies they tell become orange and purple gas clouds,
lightly wet like the edge of spray from a sprinkler.
I walk past them on my way to the Ferris wheel and my mouth and throat are suddenly full of candy colored foam.
They shake their ponytails and I strangle on their uselessness.
Still, I forgive them.
I swear to God I am made of steel.
Or is it string, I’m not sure no one tells me these things to my face.
No one except the sweater girls from lipsticked smiling mouths, teeth gleaming,
eyes like hard, glittering jewels.
Their soft cheeks briefly distract me and then I again feel their eyes staring coldly.
Surrounded by sensuality and warmth their eyes remain unaffected and unmoved like white wolves’ eyes through heavy snowfall.
A predator’s eyes.
My fear of them reduces their clouds to ash and I think of escaping while the ashes are the color of flowers.
Not grey— not ash colored.
I realize the bright billows are from dainty cigarettes held between pale fingers with pink polished nails.
Every great villain wields a cigarette!
I am a child among them and I decide to run while there is still the possibility of blamelessness.
But I look down at my ticket staring stupid from the palm of my hand and I realize there is no leaving now.
One girl stares directly at me, her gaze a lance that has run me through.
It hurts from both sides and yet there is relief as I bleed my awareness and desperation.
I am left feeling lighter, cleaner.
I smile back at her, my tongue sweet in my mouth from a peculiar birth after death.
It is then that I notice I am wearing a sweater too.
It has a sour smell, and as the girls all turn towards me I realize they all smell this way.
I hesitate before taking a step towards them—
My mind holds a single thought—
“What if I’m not ready?”
I decide I don’t care.
I decide I never did.
I look over my shoulder and see my picture tacked up on a board full of flyers.
There is writing beneath the image of my face but I can make out only one word—-
All at once my mind turns completely white and I recognize this as surrender. A single tear escapes the corner of my eye and slides down my cheek, sparkling in the afternoon sun. My white mind holds onto this as I wipe away the tear, my fingernails now a quiet bubblegum pink. I link arms with the girl who’s smile tore my heart from my chest. Now eye to eye she is grotesque. I whisper to myself—
I was here once.
I was here. I turn once more to see my picture fall from its place on the wall. A child runs past trampling it into the dust.