You’re special — I can tell. I won’t ever touch you, he said, but my camera wants to watch your body.
He didn’t waste any time. She needed to sleep, but something about his voice kept her on the phone. The calm way he breathed between words. What are you reading for school? Macbeth, she answered. Okay, no problem — I’ve read all his histories. We’ll use that as our secret code, and I’ll text you where we’ll meet. Secret code, she thought, that’s sounds stupid. She looked around her bedroom, at the pink curtains hung by her mother, veiling her in, and the panes she wanted to break through, leaving behind only wooden frames and girly fabric sprinkled with glass. She played along a bit: Sure, I like secrets... and surprises. I changed into my pj’s. They have apples on them. Well, don’t tempt me, little Eve, he said. Then he coughed and said, you’re in bed. He didn’t need to wait for her to say anything; he’d had plenty of practice talking to girls her age. Put your finger in your belly button. He waited. I know what makes art; you must learn, he said, to own your own body. She wavered. Was he the real thing? She had tried out freshman year and now this year and had never gotten the part. She was sick of pink, wanted to be the sharp thing that cut, not the dull one, invisible off-stage. Sara Barchiesi held the blade — acting queen of high school. Always got the lead.
Where’s your hand, he asked. She knew where she was going. It was easy to put her finger there, in the tiny indentation that linked her forever to her mother. Pink fabric, pink, flesh, pink life.
Now slide your hand down, he said, between your legs. Her hand was burning, her skin gleaming, but it slid down, moving on its own. Are you there, he asked, not waiting for an answer. Ariel, Ariel—now he claimed her—keep your hand going. Make sure you don’t have any piercings there. Would she be cut, or be cut? The pink oxidizing like the metals in Chem summer school, turning a deep red.
An artist must learn to lose memories, he said, we’ll create our own play for you. And then he hung up.
She fumbled to switch off the light. Nothing seemed where it used to be. Naked now, she bent down to find her comforter. Roses. Tulips. Irises. Imprinted in the fabric of pink darkness. Mother’s gifts.