“She Picks At Herself”

“Goddammit, Kimberly – get your clothes on and get your ass out to the car NOW!” Barbara Meredith Wilkinson screamed as Kim sat shaking on the bed, staring blankly through the red twist pile carpet in her room. She started rocking back and forth, her lower lip jutted out in a combination of disbelief and fatigued resignation. Kim’s straight brunette hair was pulled away from her face with a red and white, fleur de lis patterned bandanna allowing the tears to fall uninhibited onto her disease speckled arms.

“Look at you – if you’d stop picking at yourself and wear some goddamn makeup maybe SOMEBODY would marry you. Doesn’t that sound nice Kim? Or are you just happy sitting here, sulking in your bed all day and picking at your skin all night? Jesus – what happened to you? You used to be so smart and now everybody thinks we’re on DRUGS in this house. Kimberly, GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER.” Barb said thrusting her finger towards Kim, almost as if it was piercing through her and coming out the other side. “I’m going out that fucking door in ten goddamn minutes and if you aren’t dressed and ready to go to Auntie Margaret’s house then you can stay here all by yourself – Lord knows you just need more time to MOPE AROUND THE GODDAMN HOUSE ALL FUCKING DAY .”

The entire house shook when Barbara slammed the door on her way out, Kim was finally relieved however taking the moment to collect herself and formulate a task list. She thought about it for fifteen seconds before springing into action, having organized the sequence of efforts to adequately prepare herself so that she was modestly presentable for the family in the least amount of time. From behind her bathroom door, she acquired a white washcloth with faint traces of rusty brown stains and ran warm water over it in the sink. She looked at herself in the mirror while wringing it out and was glad that today she only had one small sore on her cheek. Across the length of her arms, swollen pink ulcerations with rings of raised ridges around the edges marred the otherwise attractive young lady. Pink tentacles seemed to branch out from the sores in many directions underneath the skin, for certain these lesions didn’t look like your typical spider bites or bee stings.

Kim continued on, wiping down her face with the washcloth and then drying it with her favorite fluffy purple towel. She loved that towel and that towel loved her back, she almost believed it. Foundation, light rouge, mascara – “trouble maker” red lipstick. Let the hair down, comb it out, long sleeve, hunter green, blue jeans, white Nikes, silver dolphin pendant – Voila! A crumbling masterpiece.

For an instant she looked at herself in the mirror and wasn’t ashamed, she looked at the girl in her reflection and thought “that person looks good”. She smiled at the prospect briefly as during her rare moment of self-approval she could hear Barb downstairs picking the keys up off the counter. Kimberly grabbed her white purse from off the dresser and met with her mother downstairs. “You’re wearing THAT? HA! How embarrassing… Well – at least for YOU anyway.” Barb stated against a damaging smirk.

The drive towards Auntie M’s house was short, quiet and uneventful save the amazing scenery of a late spring afternoon in North Austin. The calm blue sky was adorned with well placed, classic white fluffy clouds and the horizon fell behind Cat mountain a few miles off in the distance. Kimberly was always fascinated to see the homes on top of the mountain and wondered what kinds of families lived inside. Did the people living there have kids her age? Were they in college? Could they use their parents’ house for parties when they were out of town? Did they all get along, usually? One day she thought she may, when she gets a car again, take a ride up there and scope out the neighborhoods. Does it truly never hurt to dream?

Margaret’s house was colossal. A playpen for the gregarious typically, the hot tub today, however, would be forgone in favor of well dressed and decked out red picnic tables on the back patio under the great elm tree. “OH MARGIE!!” “OH BARBIE!! It is SO good to see you!!” The two sisters distantly embraced before exchanging faux kisses near the cheek. Barb’s blonde-gray beehive towered above Margarets climbing brunette poofy bangs and Kim wondered if Barb would even LET Auntie have higher hair. “Wait,” she thought to herself, “REALLY?” Rolling her eyes at what she considered was a ridiculous thought, Kim made her way over to the picnic tables while the sisters gabbed and concocted for each other DRANKS at the bar.

“Chip! Let your sister play with the basketball.” “AW COME ON DAD!” “…Chip” “Awwwwwwww….” the younger brother sighed as he passed his pigtailed freckle-faced older sibling the orange and black striped bouncy basketball. The ball made a weird “BOING” sound as it hit the pavement and a thud when Victoria caught it, triumphantly sticking her tongue out in victory. “DAD SHE’S-” “CHIP, your father already told you about talking back. Now come over here and give your aunt Kimberly a hug.” Rebecca said before Victoria dropped the ball and joined her brother with Kimberly, locking her into a ring of hugs around the waist. “Oh… SIGH…THANK Y’ALL” Kimberly squeaked through a deep blush, “Y’all are the best!” she told the kids with a smile. “Come sit with us Aunt Kimmy!” the older sibling pleaded. “Yeah! Tell us about what’s on late night TV, Aunt Kimmy!!” “CHIP!” both parents exclaimed at the same time. “Awwwww!”

“Kim, come sit over here and meet Dave’s brother – Nathan.” Rebecca said to her younger sibling. “Dave and I are going to get a DRANK with mom and Auntie Margaret.” “Or two!” Dave said as the couple giggled together. “KIDS, come on and let’s get ready to get in the pool!” “YAAAYYY!!” The siblings exclaimed heading towards the bar in front of the pool where Barbie and Margie were cutting looks back at the picnic tables, whispering to each other and then giggling like crazy people. Nathan had great teeth and long slick black hair that rode his tanned broad shoulders bulging from the white tank top shirt resting underneath an inconspicuous black Hawaiian button-up short sleeve garnished with electric blue Hibiscus. “Was this a dream?” Kimberly thought.

Short, cute and not full of herself. These were good starts for Nathan – a seasoned construction worker who was attuned to tearing two to three women off his hip throughout each day. When their eyes met something special happened. The glassy darkness of Nathan’s friendly brown peepers for a moment absorbed and reflected Kimberly’s winter frost baby blues, and for an instant and immediately – they felt real love together. “Hey, I’m Nathan! Don’t be shy, you can sit next to me if you like.” the man offered as he was keenly interested in knowing more about this mystery girl he’d heard so little about.

“Thank you, I’m Kimberly…” The two exchanged a light handshake momentarily arrested in each others gaze. “SO, what do you do Nathan? How do you know Rebecca and Dave?” “Well, I’m actually Dave’s brother…” DAMMIT – GREAT, Kimberly just met quite possibly the most GORGEOUS man alive and he actually seemed GENUINELY interested in her and here she was forgetting vital information that her sister had told her just two minutes ago. She’d heard that Dave had an older brother but since he was never talked about and didn’t make the wedding, she almost thought he was a myth. Smooth move, ex-lax. “Oh – that’s right,” Kimberly said with an embarrassed smile, “Becca JUST said that you were Dave’s brother. So well, what do you like to do?”

“Me? Well, I like to read. Have you ever read Naked Lunch? That book is -” “AMAZING, oh my gosh I love that book! Do you like William Golding?” “LORD OF THE FLIES – Brilliant!” The two were getting excited going back and forth, discussing various works of fiction and expressing how much they liked or disliked aspects, themes, characters and locations of several stories – and most of the time they seemed to agree with each other. Nathan saw Kim’s sore but thought nothing of it, to him it was a simple zit. Everything seemed to be going smooth. The two sat there discussing literature for what seemed like only an hour when Barb finally returned to the picnic table three hours later.

“KIM! Kim, it’sh TIME TO GO HOME~! HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!” “Mom – you’re drunk!” “YESH!! And THAT’SH Why YOU are DRIVING!” the matron exclaimed while slamming her keys on the table. “I am going to the LADEESH room to powder my NOSE, and when I get back – We Will Ride!” Barb said pointing her finger into the sky before cackling maniacally as she entered into Margaret’s house. “Hey – what’s your phone number?” Nathan asked. “I’ll give you a call this week and maybe we can see a movie or something?” “Sounds great!” Kimberly readily exclaimed punching her phone number into Nathan’s industrial smartphone. The phone’s case was about an inch thick and Kimberly imagined Nathan dropping it from a skyscraper during his lunch break like some kind of Gallelao at the Pisa tower. “There…” she said placing the phone back in his thick, heavily callused hands. “CALL ME!” she stated before being collected by her mother who was starting to complain of a headache and upset stomach.

Nathan watched Kimberly and her mom walk off into the distance before he started to recollect the conversation he’d had about so many great authors and unique perspectives on his favorite books. This was a girl who he really wanted to see more of! Sitting there thinking and grinning to himself, Aunt Margaret came over with a beer and an ash tray. The lady of the house pulled a long thin Capri from the white cigarette pack and lit it with a full-sized Zippo. Inhaling the smoke and holding it in her lungs she asked young Nathan what he thought about Kimberly. “Did you two have a good time?” she said before letting the cigarette smoke blow out her nostrils in deathly pair.

“Oh yeah! Wow, she likes all the same books I like! She’s really cool, you know I was thinking about going out to dinner with her this week and -” “Tsk tsk tsk tsk.” Margaret interjected. “Nathan you are such a handsome man, why would you want to waste your time on someone like that?” “I’m sorry?” Nathan said. “Did I miss something?” he asked with a concerned look drowning out the last bit of grin from his face. Aunt Margaret looked at him grinning, holding her cigarette up in the air before taking another drag and then exclaiming, “She’s crazy Nathan. Didn’t you see her long sleeve shirt – in the middle of May?” Nathan did indeed think that was a strange choice for late Spring but didn’t feel like it was going to be a deal-breaker. “Well, maybe she gets cold – like your sister?” “HA!” Margaret started, “Barb is a diabetic – Kimberly picks at herself, she picks at her skin.” Margaret said through a cut of her eyes. Nathan froze when he heard this, the thought was horrible that this girl he was genuinely interested in spending time with was spending her free time mutilating herself.

Off in the distance, Dave and Becca were rounding up the kids. Nathan still had the phone in his hand after taking it back from Kim. When he hit the power button the screen lit up, still on Kimberly’s entry. The label read, “Kimmy Bookworm”. It made Nathan smirk, for a second, before he remembered that she was a self-harming loonie. The last thing Nathan needed to be known for was taking advantage of a crazy person. He thought about not doing it for a second, then he long pressed and chose the “delete contact” option. “Contact Deleted” the screen now read in front of him. No sir, Nathan sure did not need to be known for taking advantage of some crazy person, and “dang – what a waste” he thought to himself. “Oh well, there’s plenty of fish in the sea.”

To be continued…