Wetlands

Wetlands by Charlotte Roche Read Free Book Online Page B

Book: Wetlands by Charlotte Roche Read Free Book Online
Authors: Charlotte Roche
Tags: Fiction, General
right in the eyes. I always do that when I’m trying to intimidate someone. It occurs to me what long, full eyelashes he has. I can’t believe it—why didn’t I notice that before? Maybe I was too distracted by the pain. The longer I look at him, the longer and fuller his lashes become. He’s telling me, I think, important things about my bowelmovements, my diet, and my recovery. But I’m not listening. I’m counting his eyelashes. And making noises every now and again that are supposed to make it seem as if I’m listening closely. Uh-huh.
    Eyelashes like that I call eye-mustaches. I can’t stand it when men have beautiful lashes. Even on women it bugs me a little. Eyelashes are a constant theme in my life. I always pay attention to them. How long they are, how thick, what color they are, whether they’re dyed, done up with mascara or with a lash curler, or both, whether they’re stuck together with sleepy seeds. A lot are light at the ends and darker at the base so they look much shorter than they really are. If you were to put mascara on them, they’d suddenly look twice as long. Me, I had no lashes at all for many years of my childhood. But I know that before that I used to get lots of compliments on my long lashes.
    One day a woman asked my mom if it didn’t bother her that her six-year-old daughter had fuller lashes than she herself did, even though she used mascara and a lash curler. Mom always told me there was an old Gypsy saying: if you get too many compliments about one particular thing, that thing will eventually disappear. That was always her explanation, too, whenever I asked why I no longer had any lashes. I have a lingering mental image, though: In the middle of the night I wake up and mom is sitting on the side of my bed where she usually sits to read me stories. She’sholding my head still, and I feel cold metal along the edge of my eyelids. Snip. On both eyes. And mom’s voice says, “It’s only a dream, my child.”
    With my fingertips I’d always touch the stubs of the lashes. If mom’s Gypsy story were true, the lashes would have fallen out completely. But I can’t really pin it on mom, either, because I often blur the distinctions between reality, lies, and dreams. These days in particular I can’t keep things straight because of all the years I took drugs. The wildest party I ever had happened when my friend Corinna realized Michael, my drug-dealer boyfriend at the time, had forgotten his stash of drugs at her house. There was no occasion for a party. It’s just what you say you’re doing when you take drugs. Partying.
    Michael kept all his blotters and pills and packets of speed and coke in a fake soda can. It looked just like a normal can of cola, but you could screw the top off.
    Michael always tried to stuff enough drugs into it so it weighed exactly as much as a real can of cola would.
    Corinna said: “Check it out, Helen—Michael’s can. He wouldn’t mind, would he?”
    She grinned at me, wrinkling her nose in the process. That always means she’s genuinely excited.
    We blew off school, bought some red wine at a kiosk, and left a message for Michael on his answering machine: “If you’re looking for cola, we found a whole case in Corinna’sroom. You won’t get pissed if we start drinking without you, will you?”
    We were big on using badly coded language over the phone. When you’re taking drugs you get paranoid and confuse yourself with Scarface. You think you’re being listened to and there’s about to be a raid, arrests, and a court proceeding during which the judge will say, “So, Helen Memel, what do the words ‘laundry detergent,’ ‘pizza,’ and ‘painting’ really mean? At no point during this time were you doing laundry, eating pizza, or painting. We didn’t just tap your phone; you were also under surveillance.”
    Then began our race against time. The idea was to take as many drugs as possible before the first one took effect and before Michael

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