The mother has a long list of things she is trying to say to the daughter. Show yourself some respect. You’re not a dishrag. You’re not a vending machine. You’re not a tray of free cheeses. A real man would treat you like a person. A real man wouldn’t suck you dry. You are terrible at making choices. Just the absolute worst. She doesn’t say it nicely.
The mother’s words hit her face and run off like drops of oil on mayonnaise. The daughter blinks eyes that are thick with colors. The mother has said it all before.
This time, the daughter goes to the cupboard. She takes down a jar filled with lacy cloth and swarming dots. The mother recognizes them. Bed bugs. Just like that disgusting hotel in Yonkers.
The daughter retracts the top and breathes into the opening. The swarming intensifies. She extends her wrist, blue-veined and luminescent. She sets the mouth of the jar against her skin. The bugs rush the opening, tumbling over each other to get to her. They grow larger, darker. Her skin reddens and swells.
The mother sighs. “Aren’t you a clever girl?” she says. “That’ll teach me.”
Kelsie Hahn holds an MFA in fiction from New Mexico State University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Barrelhouse, Caketrain, NANO Fiction, The Southeast Review, and others. "Bloodlines" will appear in her fiction chapbook Responsibility, forthcoming from Eastern Point Press. She lives in Houston, TX with her husband, Stephen Cleboski. More at http://kelsiehahn.weebly.com.
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