chapter eleven: shadow mama
excerpted from GIRLY, a novel by Elizabeth Merrick

(this is Racinda):

I started to think of her in my mind as Vagina Popcorn. The orange stuff on the popcorn would get on her fingernails and she would suck it off, somehow erasing all the residue from the perfect silk-wrap cuticle rim. They were talking about douching, the air in the kitchen was a milky turquoise, reflected from the floor I guess since the light flouncing through the high windows came yellow off the curtains.

Vagina Popcorn said she wasn’t going to put a bunch of chemicals up in there.

If there was an odor, she said, she was just going to go to the clinic. That’s what she believed was the right thing to do, she said. Lisa half-heartedly slapped her five, as if out of habit, and when their hands met, Vagina Popcorn’s showed their age. Vagina Popcorn’s sister, Lisa’s Aunt Beesie, believed in douching. I didn’t know if Aunt Beesie was Lisa’s real aunt, or if Vagina Popcorn was her real mother, or what. Lisa didn’t seem annoyed enough at Vagina for Vagina to really be her mother, they didn’t seem to know each other’s every breath like it seemed they should have.

I asked Lisa later and she said, “What does real mean anyway? Look at her nails. Look at her cheekbones.”

Vagina Popcorn was the kind of person who got her boyfriends to pay for plastic surgery, but had roaches crawling under her peeling, jewelly linoleum. Even so, I liked the way Vagina Popcorn looked at me like she understood at least something; I liked the way she nodded at the right times, so you knew she was getting it.


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