chapter seven: fall away
an excerpt from GIRLY, a novel by Elizabeth Merrick

Amandine decided to stop protecting Ruth from him, him—in his absence—from Ruth. She decided to give Ruth exactly what her father had left for her. She decided to leave the taffy and the ashtrays one evening, in their little box, outside Ruth’s bedroom door. Ruth promptly took the gift down to her father’s workshop and filled both painted-glass tchotckes with two packs of cigarette butts over the course of the evening. She brought her boom box down there and blasted a Zeppelin mix tape Matty Dieckmann had given her. She chewed each pastel piece of taffy into a pulp and let it drop, trailing syrupy thick lines of saliva, onto her father's perfectly carved letter-blocks. Her tongue sore, pocked with smoke and sugar, she remained quiet as she threw the contents of the ashtray over the project, transfixed by the wood’s transformation into sweet, ashy refuse. The music fed her smoke, then her chewing, then the blocks after she slammed them apart, finally, with a hammer. Heartbreaker, the song said, go away, heartbreaker, the song said, but Ruth didn’t pay attention to the words. Ruth ripped the counter off the wall with a crowbar and a hammer, she drilled holes into the blades of her father's two nicest handsaws, she cracked the window of each silvery level and let the yellow liquid run away.


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