;

My English teacher said yesterday there’s no gift that doesn’t come with chains. No one was listening because she’s always spouting stupid crap but she, right at that exact second, started giving me her sharp-eye and I wrote it down and she smiled this tight way that prickled me. I think she knows who my father is, how he’s exactly the third most powerful man in Washington, not according to anyone but according to the Constitution.

Now I type what she said into the phone, curious to see who said it before her, because maybe that will be worth knowing. “Gifts with” I type, which fills in to “gifts with whips” and there’s S&M and porn and if only I could text to someone who’d laugh. I want someone listed under “favorite,” someone a favorite for real.

The water’s off and steam fogs half the mirror so I don’t see my face, which is like victory because here’s the reason my bathroom’s the best room: it’s the Snapchat of the house, like, go here and poof, vaporize.

Obviously I get my teacher meant “metaphorical” chains so I type those words into Google. My dad who pays for it all meaning everything– bills, credit cards, groceries, birthday gifts–meaning he gets to escape living here with me—that man, he hates Siri, so even she’s not hanging around on the phone he bought me for my last birthday. What comes up for “metaphorical chains” is a gob of college papers for sale that sound extraordinarily stupid and boring and what, like are little kids somewhere going, “When I grow up, I wanna write papers that lazy college drunks buy for fifty bucks.”

I never find what I want on this stupid phone.

The mirror’s all the way fogged up now, top to bottom, and a wet haze bulks the air, and the counter’s slick with condensation. More science happening here than any class. I trace my one finger on the misty-white mirror glass, I write letters like I’m a kid, I print: HELP ME. I look hard enough and spot the identical ghost words already up there in the mirror, leftovers from before, a message right where my face should be.

 

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About Leslie Pietrzyk

Leslie Pietrzyk
Leslie Pietrzyk's collection of unconventionally linked short stories, This Angel on My Chest, won the 2015 Drue Heinz Literature Prize and was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press. A new novel, Silver Girl, is forthcoming from Unnamed Press in 2018. Her short fiction and essays have appeared/are forthcoming in Southern Review, Gettysburg Review, Hudson Review, The Sun, Shenandoah, Arts & Letters, The Collagist, and Cincinnati Review. More information: lesliepietrzyk.com