A long time ago she was a person, a specialist in limbo, dipping under railings and pitter-pattering up stairs with the softest of footfalls. Now she’s let her feet turn heavy and her claws go long. Now she’s let her hair grow thick, the kind of underbrush a herd of deer might sleep inside. She’s forgotten all about the fences.
Now her sweaters are full of holes and when they open up, she won’t care. She’ll welcome the world against her skin, let the beetles scatter anywhere they please. The girl is different now, not so much a girl as a thing that hinges on the scent of fried onions at eight o’clock in the morning, a thing who knows rotting flesh smells a little bit like marzipan.
The girl growls at strangers. She howls when she feels the sound gush through her windpipe, remembering how her throat was once the worn riverbed of words, twisting into something pretty. Now it’s a tunnel, the longest one you’ve ever seen, and full of silverfish. She thinks if she follows it all the way down, she might find a bit of light. The girl doesn’t smell so great.
Back then she used to think winter was war. Now she knows it is. She sniffs at newspapers in the garbage and acts out all the horoscopes, doesn’t matter whose star she picks. She thinks everything smells like instant coffee. At night the rats mistake her bare ass for the moon.
Once in a while the girl will crawl out of the holes in her sweater and into a dress, let the velvet hang like a lampshade around her thighs, and paint her nails the color of fox blood. She does this to prove she hasn’t yet forgotten the word for mirror. To prove she could still find her way back inside, if she wanted to.
But what’s the point? It would be like trying to make a necklace from two ends of a live wire, like trying to swim deep without first letting go of any air. It would be like trying to fold water.
No. The girl’s not going home. She’s a bloodhound on the trail, and next, she thinks she’ll be a galaxy.
Anna GM lives Berlin. When she's not writing, she works at a desk, organizes queer events, and reads stories to anyone who will listen. Her work can be found around the internet at Unbroken Journal, the Olentangy Review, and Slink Chunk Press. She was a finalist in the 2017 Bath Flash Fiction Award and in The Reader Berlin's Summer Short Fiction Competition.