Two gorgeous girls eating oranges in LA. You know? Babes in tiny high-waisted shorts tugging thick rinds off, yum, pungent fruit, their legs going on and on and on, one long bar of sunlight bouncing up each one— One girl's mother was shot in Costa Rica, 1994. She owned a brothel on the outskirts of a city that touched against the jungle coast and had just enough semi-good-looking women who wanted to fuck for money to supply a brothel. A brothel's worth. This girl spent ages 2-9 either sitting on the cement patio of the brothel or hovering a foot above the cement patio in a dirty red and blue hammock. Her father fixed cars and found clients for her mother by fixing cars. Her mother and father had a good thing going and argued a lot because a) that was how they communicated, b) money came in fluxes. The whores did the girl's hair and she ate Magnum ice cream bars for lunch and recognized her half-white, all-brown life as a sort of bug-infested paradise—there was a sleepy sense that this would be her Origin Story. One of the women shot her mother and stole the safe in the basement. The woman had fallen in love with one of her regulars—everyone in the town knew within a week—and they'd schemed. The other girl hates pooping when she has a tampon in. The tampon pops out just enough to be uncomfortable and she has to pull it all the way out even though it's not full of blood. She'll go days without pooping when its her period. Or she'll time her shits just right, which isn't always easy. This girl doesn't have an Origin Story, just her period, and her narrative doesn't move forward or backward or sideways, just emanates in all directions: rich rich rich. This girl puts an entire slice of orange in her mouth and sets it so the curve of the fruit matches the curve of her teeth and then bites straight through so that cold dribbles of juice spurt out and run down her chin. She laughs, considers letting it dry there. Yellow jackets all day. What will they do today? Maybe this is all they'll do, eat these oranges on this metal bench, their legs beaming bright signals up to UFOs. They don't even need to speak, they tilt their heads at each other and roll their eyes up and laugh, and then a skeptical smile, what are they skeptical about? These oranges, probably. They were shining and firm, palm-sized globes, DEEPLY satisfying and now they're sticky empty rinds. The girls give each other the downward eyes, perfect glossy brown curtain hair falling all across their cheeks, ragged. BruNETTE. This is so funny, this thing she does, you know? Each thinks this about the other. They giggle together. No one else in the world gets this thing with her eyes, this cutesy bitch thing, no one. Most of the time they don't eat, they just feed off that thing and oranges. The girl with the menstrual blood swelling the cotton & rayon thing in her vagina stands up. The girl without the mother follows. Their tits are raised high like American flags. Their hair shines. They are one big salute to the American Cock, postergirls for brilliant LA nothing. One of them has modeled before, photographed carefully painting the curves of her barely-nippled breasts with rubber cement. Pushing them together and then FLASHFLASHFLASH as the breasts separate and the clear glue becomes glossy filament between them, spun gold. Turned up in some fashion mag that sells better in Japan, but the right people in New York know. These girls—these girls!—even more beautiful in motion, long strides and sunken shoulders carrying them across the street on twin platform heels. Who told these girls they could be so confident? Who told these girls they couldn't have mothers and they could bleed? The girl who didn't paint herself with glue had photos of her taken by someone once, too, but they are photos no one will ever see (she hopes) that carved a giant spoon shape right out of her midsection, photos taken while an assistant adjusted a large metallic sheet around a bare lightbulb, her legitimizing presence as she danced in the background glancing at the bleeding fourteen-year old and the yellow dildo suction-cupped to the floor. Even then the girl was beautiful—YEOWZA—even then she had those junkie eyes that made you think of sockets thick with secret pain. Their bodies are laser beams of desire and tragedy overlapping and burning holes, but this point of intersection, banking off the metallic sheet, sizzling as an absence grows, this one goes unmentioned. Where are they striding off to, these girls?
Kayla Morse studied fiction at Sarah Lawrence College. She lives in Brooklyn, by way of Quito, by way of Connecticut, by way of Ohio.