Some people wondered what had happened to her teeth. How she chewed food or smiled for school pictures. She wasn’t supposed to stop. Even the furious pounding at the front door couldn’t make her. Her mother’s screaming at TV Football, beer in hand. Her teeth hung at the back of her mouth, the remaining few spiked by sawdust. Midnight stars blazed yellow through the mountain valley where she climbed a skinny blue spruce tree, naked with white socks, the kind with balls on the back of them. The kind that flirt from below, catching menses drip. She drank fruit punch with rum and vomited on rocks singing do wah diddy diddy dum diddy do. She wound her tongue around the hair of heavy metal boyfriends who weren’t sure where they were supposed to be when they grew up. Maybe mechanics or tattoo artists with shops set up in the back of abandoned laundromats, fresh off of prison food, somewhere south of Russel, Kansas. She teased her bangs high with Aqua Net and bubble gum. The higher the better. No one would remember her last name so she changed it to something musical, with lots of Y’s. Mygynteeyyyyyyyy. Where did your teeth go, they asked; she said nowhere really, they were just knocked out by my stepdad’s left fist, but he’s always sad so I forgive him. Her name sounded like Christmas beginnings to make up for a lack of celebrations in her home. Merry. No peppermint candy filled stockings or pine scented candles to mask the smell of her mother’s Marlboro Lights. Boys crept into her window and fondled her pubis, twisted her tits. She told them yes, fine just don’t leave any more marks on my neck or my stepdad will knock the rest of my teeth out. She wasn’t supposed to stop. Can I have a cigarette, she asked from the back of a pickup truck, full speed down the highway. Later her mother found another man who was planning on moving to a different state closer to the seahorses. That’s fine, her mom said; she was tired of being consumed by altitude sickness and damn did she miss those ocean song birds. But mom, she said, we’ve only been here a year. There shouldn’t be this much leaving when I’m only beginning to understand who I am and who she was hung in trees and sometimes in the parking lot of 7-11 with a bag of Cheetos crunching into her gums. Who she was was a pleasantly warm crotch with sweet lips covered in cherry balm. Who she was whispered she loved him when he wasn’t looking. Who she was could be a ferocious snicker trapped in the pegged leg of her jeans. Who she was wove anger into the seams of her underwear, never once pulled all the way down.
Felicity Fenton has presented her multidisciplinary work (writing, performance, installation) in a number of public and private spaces around the globe. She received her MFA in interdisciplinary arts from Goddard College. By day, she works as a designer and radio host. She lives in Portland, Oregon.
The Flexible Persona was founded in 2013. We are an independent home for emerging and established writers and poets.