Grit by Mika Nadolsky

At school they clamor to me. The girls smile and compliment. The boys pretend to listen. They act like it has nothing to do with my father.

            I sit in the bathroom until my legs tingle. I’ve found that most people are loath to question a teenage girl about time spent in the restroom. I use that time to vigorously rub at the little button between my legs.

            At home I use a knife. It has a wooden handle and a chipped point. I use the handle like a lover. It gets messy if the blade licks a thigh.

            Once we went to a public pool with people that were supposedly relatives. I paddled around the shallow area with the other girls. An older boy with braces and hair on his shoulders penetrated our group. He selected one of the shapelier girls and undid the string to her bikini bottoms. I slipped under the chlorinated water but without goggles all I saw were milky outlines. They beat the boy in the grass and called him a pervert while all the other families looked on. They would call me that or worse. Sometimes, I long for that type of punishment.

            It is one a.m. I feel used crouching on the toilet as I hear a vehicle rumbling outside loud as an airplane. I push myself up with legs quivering to peer out the window. The cruise ship sized car idles in our drive.  

            My father walks through the open garage. I didn’t know he was home. It’s early for him on a weekend. He looks like a shard of concrete from the back. He has never really been more than that to me. He slips into the passenger side without hesitation.

They find his body the next day behind the tire factory. He has a hole at the base of his neck. They stuck something solid right through all the spaghetti like cords in his neck and up into the kidney beans in his skull.

            The same car comes up our street. The man that gets out kisses my mother on the cheek. He gives her an envelope that is much less than she expected, which is always the way it is with money.

            Thoughts and prayers are quick at school. Then they start to test. Gilly, with her freckles and legs like trash bags full of leaves takes my seat in the cafeteria. Lue, with her thin lipped and hooked nosed (I overheard one of the football guys claiming her nose had become lodged in his rectum as she tried to get at his testicles with her tongue.) stands in front of my locker after the bell.

            It makes no difference when my mother starts seeing Frank. They all know about his stomach. They know he is only looking for someone to change his bedpan.

            I imagine nail scratches on the underside of my father’s coffin. Then a hole right up through wood, wet dirt and into the stary night. He stumbles through the neighborhood and stands by the bathroom window watching my mother shaking shitlogs out of a silver pan. He comes through the wall and shoves her head down into the dirty water. Across the street at Gilly’s, he splits her fat thighs, and then over to Lue’s where he staddles her face until he feels the tip of her nose up in his abdomen.

            My orgasm is like a stroke.

            They slither by in the hall like rat snakes cheaply perfumed. They assume I will eventually come groveling for just a spot among them. They have no idea how much time I spend alone.

            I wait until the cafeteria has settled. I walk slowly to the restroom. I take the last stall. I step out of my shorts and underwear. I take the knife out of my purse.

            There is a little whoosh of a sound when they come in. I pull back the lock and stand poised like a wrestler the knife between my legs like a pendulum.  

Mika Nadolsky’s work has appeared in Ember Chasm Review, Bound, and The Piker Press.