Curtains Rising by Andy Tu

Next time she tells you that you can’t do something, you’re gonna fucking kill her.

You imagine it from time to time. Imagine it now, jabbing a butcher’s knife into her stomach.

“You finished yet?”

The way she says it with such expectation.

“Almost,” you say.

Chop. Chop. Chop. Carrots cutting on the counter.

“They’re too thick,” she says. “Need to be smaller. Or soup have no flavor.”

“Okay.”

Chop, slice. Dice.

You wonder what human meat tastes like.

You wonder what she tastes like.

Probably salty.

Bony.

***

Puff puff, pass. Smoke gliding upwards toward the ceiling of Verona’s SUV. A dim orange light in the distance of the parking lot.

“Can’t believe your parents bought you this car,” you say.

“Can’t believe you still haven’t run away yet,” she says.

The bitch at home is not your mother, but your aunt. Your mother is in Vietnam, whoring it out to the highest 3-dollar bidder, squeezing out baby girls like you.

Verona starts giggling. You do too.

“You ever think about killing her?”

You nod. Nod again. Nod to the rhythm of your life, to the soft thumping of the song. To your heart saying yes.

“We should do it,” she says. “We could totally get away with it.”

“You’re crazy.”

“It would be epic.”

And that’s what life should be.

Epic.

The type of life your dad lives.

He paid your mother to stick his flesh into hers.

He’s probably still out there, about to die soon.

Lonely as fuck.

Acid breath and pruny dicked.

Rotting.

And high.

Like you.

Your father paid $1,359 for a plane ticket to have sex with a girl who threw up in the bathroom after he left.

Your mother accepted three one-dollar bills to let your father do anything he wanted to her.

Things that worms crawl with.

Things inside you.

“Let’s do it,” you say.

“Let’s kill her.”

***

“Why you always look at me like that?”

You’re required to eat at the dinner table.

Family bonding time.

“Like what?”

“Like that.”

Oh, not this again.

“Where you go last night? I know you sneak out. I no stupid.”

Laugh. “So funny. Li, you’re so funny.”

“Don’t call me that. You call me aunt.”

Scoff. “Okay.”

“Where you go last night?”

“Nowhere.”

“You go see Verona again, hmm?”

Smile.

Shakes her head, clicks her teeth.

“Why I tell you do this, do that? For your own good.”

Chews the meat of the chicken legs, sucking sound, suck suck suck. Bones drooling out of her lips onto the napkin.

“Verona no good for you.”

“Oh, Verona very good for me.”

Shakes her head.

Sighs.

“I work night today. Don’t burn house down.”

Hah. Hah.

“Maybe I will.”

But she won’t be here—what’d be the point?

***

“And….time’s up,” Mr. Andrews says.

“Turn in your papers.”

You get straight fucking A’s. Can you believe it? Somewhere in the genes of your father’s pedophilia and your mother’s STD’s, you were given the DNA of genius.

“Please exit the classroom. It’s lunchtime.” A smirk. “And I don’t want to look at your faces anymore.”

Except Verona’s.

Sliding fingers across iPhones, your peers, gossip girling.

“Oh my God, did you see the premiere of Walking Dead? Can’t believe they killed—“

“Mr. Andrews,” Verona voice loud for all to hear, “I was wondering what you thought of my essay.”

We can’t do this anymore, Mr. Andrews fidgeting.

“It was interesting,” his fake voice. “What you said about politicians, their focus now on destroying the opponent rather than showing why they’re fit for—”

Seriously, I think people are starting to suspect. You didn’t tell Nora, did you? You swore to me, you wouldn’t tell a single soul, not even

“Nora, can you give us a moment? I’d like to discuss Veronica’s paper with her in private.”

You’re too funny, Mr. Andrews.

Twitch on his left brow, twitching fingers, stuttering Stanley, nervous Nelson.

“No problem,” you say.

She knows.

Fuck yeah, you do.

V tells you everything.

Mr. Andrews is not sure if he ever loved his wife.

He probably married her because he felt he had to.

Mr. Andrews’ wife is getting fat.

Where does all that weight come from? Skittles at work. Sour patch kids after lunch. On the way home, snickers, king size. She’s hungry, so why wait?

Mr. Andrews is an asshole, any way you put it.

Judging a girl by her weight.

Beauty is on the inside, haven’t you heard?

Mr. Andrews likes girls like V.

V has never touched him, never let him touch her.

V puts on a show through her webcam, says his name, and he does the rest.

He thinks about it in bed with his wife.

V doesn’t like him, she likes the attention. She likes knowing he’s on the other side, hungry like his wife, drooling like a donkey.

Let’s just put this behind us. It never happened. Okay?

Sure, Mr. Andrews.

***

You and V kiss. Long, sensual. Your lips stretching over each other. It’s like you’re eating each other, swallowing your parts.

“I was thinking tomorrow,” she says.

“I was thinking the same,” you say.

“It’s not that hard. I don’t think so.”

“Really?”

“Eye drops tastes like nothing. Or so I’m told.”

Drip, drip, drip drip drip into that pitcher of water.

Aunt filters all the water from the sink, the already-filtered water.

Chemicals bad. Make you weak.

As if her life is worth living a long, long, time.

Drip.

No friends, no lovers, no family. All she has is cleaning shit up at the supermarket, stacking boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios, one on top of the other. Front side facing the aisle.

Drip.

Auntie has no one.

She only has that.

Drip.

And you.

Too many drops and they’ll slip into a coma.

Just the right amount and they’ll knock out for hours.

Into an abyss.

Into darkness.

A void.

Sweet dreams, Auntie.

Sweet dreams.

***

“Can you believe it?”

The cheerleader with her jaw open, the tsk tsk sound of her boyfriend, as if he doesn’t do the same thing.

He does, every night, to different girls. Girls like V, getting it done.

“Mr. Andrews, fucking pervert.”

“That’s disgusting.”

Covering their mouths like talking about it is dirty.

“He’s disgusting.”

Like your father.

“That fucking pervert.”

Whispers, mutters in the hallways. Mr. Andrews walking toward his classroom, all eyes on him, shaking heads, sneers.

He knows.

It’s obvious.

YouTube will destroy your life. So will Facebook. You don’t need to be a politician to know that.

Run, Mr. Andrews.

Run.

***

V lights the candles. A circle around you two. Protection.

Flames flickering, left and right. Shadows flickering, left and right.

V and you kiss, long and sensual.

Sweet dreams, Auntie. Sweet dreams.

A blade across V’s fingertips, across yours, you mash your fingers together. You feel her entering you, yourself flowing into her.

Sweat dreams, Auntie. Sweet dreams.

Wind through the windows, curtains rising.

Like ghosts.


Andy Tu is currently reading The Grapes of Wrath, applying to MFA’s, and missing his cat. His work has possibly been published in a number of magazines that he refuses to share. You might be able to reach him on Facebook, which he keeps deactivated.

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