Dark Molly

Rob Roensch

Dark Molly turns and the black smudged cross on her forehead is the color of her hair and her eyes and I have one of those moments when her eyes are my eyes and I have to close my eyes to get myself back and tell myself that she doesn't like you, moron.

When she's past me, the deep green of her skirt against the smooth backs of her thighs is a tingling in my ribs.

I open my eyes and see the pink flabby under-chin of the priest.

Jay's holding the brass bowl of black ash for the priest, staring at me with dead face and crossed eyes.

I don't give him the satisfaction of breaking up.

I watch the priest's black thumb.

I smell burning leaves.

The ash on the priest's thumb is gritty against my skin.

I whisper the words.

I can feel a warmth, as if light in the long dark hair of a girl, spreading down and in from the pit of my throat.

(It has always happened for me this way.)

I turn and see the other kids in line, their eyes hovering in the air.

Mr. Stinchcomb, on the back wall, is watching us, me, with folded arms.

I am not afraid of him because he is not Catholic and is only doing his job.

I wish for wings instead of hands--long gray dusty flaps, feathers trailing uselessly on the floor.

I would have to drink by dipping my face into a lake, a bowl, an oily puddle.

Not being able to touch another would make things easier.

And the flight.

Who wants these thick bones?

The knobs of Dark Molly's spine.

Other Molly, in the hall, asks if I am in one of my states.

Her forehead cross is distinct, two pinky-thick lines.

Her Death is a serious girl architect.

The backs of her hands are covered with blue ballpoint pen scribbles and she smells like shampoo.

I don't want her to die.

"Changed my pills," I say, which is what I say in such situations.

Other Molly should find me useless, but she is too good a girl.

"You have the stupidest doctors," she says.

"I don't care," I say.

Sometimes at night she goes down into the basement with Jay.

Later, he makes me smell his fingers.

I say "I'm okay," and she goes down the hall and I go down the stairs and there's the big window and wet black and green and orange woods and falling snow.

I wish a fox.

I want a cold cherry razorblade popsicle.

Through the door of English, another window, snow and the dead oak.

"We're out at noon," says Jay.

(He must have squirmed out of my ear and zipped on his face when I was in the falling snow.)

His fingers are black with ash.

"Come back from the Milky Way, bug eyes," he says.

"I've been here," I say.

"My mom's at her sister's," he says.

"Let's go to the movies," I say.

He's trying to grow a goatee and can't.

My ears turn into hands when I close my eyes as hard as I can.

There's a bluebird in the dead oak when the oak was alive.

Dark Molly is a hole carved in the air through to outerspace.

She's openly scrolling through text messages on her cellphone, will never get a detention.

She knows she's beautiful, that she's watched.

She looks out at the snow and the snow is the world is the inside of her mind.

The snow is not beautiful to her or to the world; it is happening.

Dark Molly is never cold.

The radiators hiss.

The snow has been injected into the soft underside of my wrists.

I'm buzzing for no reason.

I can't say I want to be different than I am.

It's difficult to pretend to be normal, but I make the effort and raise my hand to volunteer to read from Macbeth.

If only I could be a character and speak in poetry, sleep like a closed book, look up into wires and rope and ceiling panels and see stars and sky.

Then the principal's voice on the P.A. and we can stop pretending we aren't free.

Jay won't even let me bring my book bag with me.

He won't drive slow on the white soft streets so I keep the car on the road with my mind.

We need to be safe this day because Other Molly knows Dark Molly and so behind us is a Suburu full of girls, wild as released salmon, in short green skirts.

I wish the sudden black eyes of a deer in the white woods.

But only the mailboxes with erased names.

Jay's evil soul.

My wrong soul and the beauty of the girl.

The ash of Jay's cigarette drifts down onto his knee and he doesn't notice or doesn't care.

He hates rolling down the window so the inside of the car is Jay's gray mouth.

A country music song about fathers and daughters on so loud the speakers fuzz.

He wants to join the army but is worried about having to stop smoking pot.

Leaping from an airplane into nothing, the green and black wrecked world miles below.

Falling so fast you're not moving.

The screen door his mother had left open bangs in the wind.

All the lights on in the empty house.

Jay turns off the car and says "It's fuck Christmas."

"It's March," I say, as if I thought he thought it was Christmas.

He believes I'm spacier than I am, but I've always got at least a few fingers in the earth.

Though sometimes I have to hold on.

Snow like billions of silent electric punctuation marks.

A breath of the cold clean air.

Standing by the car on their narrow, nervous deer-feet in the snow: Other Molly and Kaitlyn—braces and big tits and a smirk—and Dark Molly.

Dark Molly alone has wiped the ash from her forehead.

She catches my eye and I look away.

I wish to free the creature, green and translucent and warm, that is coalescing beneath my breastbone.

The feeling is close to what happens when I eat the body, but it can't be from God.

Maybe it's all just radio waves read wrong.

Inside we throw off our shoes and coats and the girls pull away their sweaters and Jay and I tear off our ties and Jay turns on the Food network loud and we go down into the basement.

Glass jars of screws, the smell of laundry, the windows at the tops of the concrete walls black with snow.

A ratty plaid couch, an old recliner, a bare light bulb bright as the idea of an orange.

Other Molly wants a sleeve of yellow cheese.

Kaitlyn opens an Old Milwaukee.

Dark Molly leans back into the couch, dark smooth legs crossed, gazing up with a blank face and deep blank brown eyes over my shoulder at Jay's closed hand.

He opens a handful of what could be baby teeth.

We swallow the teeth with beer and orange juice.

I pour vodka and Sprite into a Star Wars glass and hand it to Dark Molly and she looks up at me with her dark blank eyes and says, "Do I want this?"

"I love you," I say and she is not surprised but takes the glass.

We are all lying in the snow.

Water drips up my spine.

I see in the mirror the ash cross still black on my forehead, forever, but my eyes are gone.

Other Molly goes into the video game.

Clocks blink.

Jay is sitting on the lip of the tub, no shirt on, staring out the window at the snow and the night whispering sadly: "I am going to fuck the shit out of brace-face."

"Don't be a baby," he says.

"It's time to grow up," he says.

His ash cross is a black smear.

I can hear the snow falling and I can see there is a pattern that I could understand if I spent the night.

But Dark Molly sits in the green recliner in the pink room holding the empty Star Wars glass in her lap with both hands.

Jay and Kaitlyn are trapped in a closet in the basement, howling.

Outside, the falling snow glows.

Dark Molly says: "Do you believe in eternal life?"

"I do," I say.

She smiles and sets the glass at her feet and stands and moves through the snow and stands before me.

"Do you believe in eternal life?" I say.

My fingers are against the side of her face, her burning ear, and she shivers.

"Someone just walked over my grave," she says, and licks her thumb and rubs the ash from my forehead.

She shows me her black thumb and slips her thumb between my lips.

Ash, and lemonade, and flesh warm with blood.

She leans in closer and is almost touching my chest with the tips of her breasts and she whispers: "You're about to die."