:: Article

Candy

By Anne Germanacos.

I passed a candy store on O. St, early one morning when the shop was still closed. Looking through the plate-glass window, I saw rows of glass jars, each with its own different-colored and shaped candy. I’ve still not gone back during store hours, though I imagine that when I do eventually, going through the door will be either like walking into a dream or dissolving one.

And how is eating a piece of candy any different? First it’s dreamy, then it’s gone.

Stephanie

My aunt told me on the beach while the others were up at the house, having drinks, and I couldn’t stop thinking that she was using the beauty of the sunset to try to seduce me. How could she think I’d ever succumb to that nonsense?

My aunt is a nun with a fragile sense of self. Her lips parted, wet and hungry, when she mentioned the implement she used to flagellate herself. If I hadn’t been so mesmerized by the beauty of the sky, I would’ve turned away in disgust. Eventually, I screamed at my aunt: You’re SICK!

The others pretended they didn’t hear and maybe they didn’t—the tide was high and loud. I was only fifteen then but as soon as I arrived back at the wide porch my father, a drinker himself, put a short glass of amber whisky in my hand.

My aunt trailed me the entire weekend. I hadn’t done anything yet, nothing more than wish or hope for an ecstatic chaos to take me away, but the truth is that within exactly two months, I would turn my parents’ world upside down.

Of course, no one blames my aunt for the fact that I became their own World Trade Center, coming down.

Bruises

Though we’d been sitting in the coffee shop an hour already, I knew she would have gone on and on forever, telling me about the bruises and what they meant to her.

She seemed proud of the fact that she’d had to expose her bruises when she’d gone on a beach vacation with her family. She said that even if she’d worn a one-piece, what he’d done to her skin would’ve shown. There was awe in her voice and the only thing I could think to say was: You would be smart to put many miles between yourself and him. She seemed to like the possibility of being smart in my estimation, but I could tell that it didn’t affect her desire to stay close to him.

It’s like an addiction, she said.

Not like, is, I corrected.

Well. She seemed to be asking a question.

Well, break yourself of it.

I took small sips of my coffee, trying to savor each one in order to escape the vision she’d put before my eyes. It was nothing I could easily erase.

By the time I finally said the thing that made her pick up her bags and leave, I knew, a little, what he must have felt to have her there with him always, at his ear, pressing against him with her story, insisting on her righteousness. If I’d been a man perhaps I, too, would’ve brought my hands to her hands, held them away from her body, bruising them if she continued to refuse to stop talking. Of course that part of the story I surmised; it’s the part she refrained from telling.

Sleeping Beauty

It’s that little Avra, dressed as Sleeping Beauty (no beauty herself, nothing like her already sultry friend Alice), who asks me: Do you sex? You do, don’t you?

These girls are six.

They’ve caught me offguard and I try not to appear nonplussed as I think of the best way to answer their question.

I say, Yes, I sex. Or maybe I say: Yes, I do. Isn’t that normal?

Then, that little Avra, hairy-armed nymphette, falls back against the sofa, throwing her legs toward the ceiling and showing, beneath the cheap gold-and-blue fabric of the costume, white underpants to all the world.

Victoria

Her mother (of course) took her and Victoria had to say “MOM, stay out of the examining room, please” and her mother wasn’t happy with the situation at all because think of what the doctor could do in there with his daughter so they compromised, leaving the door ajar an inch, so that if she needed her mother, Victoria could scream.

There was no need to call. A partially perforated hymen isn’t that unusual, though typically one sees it in younger girls. Clearly she hadn’t had any sexual experience, though she was already eighteen, but a girl like that, with her mother always there—what could you expect?

He assured the mother that her daughter was dressed now, and then he shut the door in order to speak to the girl. “Just work at it, whenever you think to.” And she interpreted his message.

Her mother asked and asked until Victoria almost told, but didn’t. One day her didn’t turned to did, the same day she was accepted to the college of her choice. She thought that would make it not matter, but it would always matter, or at least it did now, six months and one almost-affair, but no real sex, later. Would it always be like this?

She thought to become a psychiatrist, like the one she saw, who helped her to see beyond her mother’s face, and instead learned Arabic, in the off-hours, in preparation for a trip across the desert where she’d meet girls with altered, fiddled-with hymens. She thought this was where she would if not fit in then at least have something to talk about.

That was a fond hope, a bit of childish daydream, Victoria out in the desert with covered women discussing the contours of their pudenda.

Get serious, she thought, and that, of course, was her mother’s voice.

Blonde

Her hair comes out too light this time and she refuses to leave the sorority in daylight. But blonde is what she is, she keeps telling people in imaginary conversations.

Imaginary because she’s hiding behind closed shades, wearing a sorority sister’s lime green silk bathrobe, the cuffs stained with blue ink. Usually immaculate, she’s indulging herself in the desire for pain. She can’t figure out how to avoid it, so she may as well embrace it.

*

Do I really know someone who, fresh out of the sorority, having inculcated the smarts to run a business, went into that particular business?

My best friend’s daughter, whom I’ve known since birth, works the corners between T. and R. in the late afternoon hours when there’s light enough to reveal her face. For she offers men the pleasure of beauty, and more, a feeling of fame that accompanies proximity to such beauty.

My take? For years, this was the brat who spat on possible suitors, turning on her mother nun. Now this child greets people with a smile far more genuine than the crabbed grimaces that once told the world it was at fault for everything that had ever gone wrong in her life: from the defection of her handsome father to the tornado that took their house, to her mother’s inability to buy her the car of her choice, and the way her hair, one spring day not so many years before, had come out too blonde and she’d had to stay inside for a month, like an invalid or someone waiting to get out of jail.

Her poor mother still dotes, can’t see that this new twist is cause for celebration, or optimism, at the very least.

anne-germanacos1ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Anne Germanacos’
work has appeared in over fifty literary reviews and the anthologies Diagram III and Sidebrow. In 2010, a collection of her short stories will be published by BOA Editions. She lives in San Francisco and on the island of Crete.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Monday, February 2nd, 2009.