“Two tablespoons of cottage cheese,” Astrid says to Mrs. Noelle, the lunch lady with the ratty hairnet. Astrid palms her a quarter. “You’re a champ. Really,” she says.
Juli eats a green apple. I gnaw on spearmint gum. Lunch only lasts thirty minutes at Sacred Heart Holy Angels. We’re hungry, but skinny.
We like to see our hipbones. We like to see our ribs. Aaron, a skater from Fenwick, pressed his hand, palm flat, from my throat, down my front. “Like a snake, you are,” he said.
I wrapped myself around him, blissful, and squeezed him, a little hard.
The cafeteria swarms with noise: tray tables banging together, dishes slung in the sink, girls laughing, swearing. All of them, chewing on macaroni.
“Come on,” Astrid says and we spend the rest of the lunch hour behind the Virgin Mary statue, smoking.
“I like your hair.”
“Yeah? I streaked it,” Juli says, thumbing the bleached ends.
Lying in bed, my stomach howls. I roll over and tuck my knees to my chest. I see myself getting smaller and smaller, like a seed in the black night soil of the earth. This is the stars and this is the city. This is the net of the world and I am waiting deep down inside it.
Originally published in Quick Fiction.