The Writing Disorder



New Fiction


by Ashley Inguanta

       He never thought he would spend his first day of summer like this, standing on the side of the road dressed as a tinted-pink squirrel. The night before, his mother had washed his squirrel-suit with her pink tracksuit.
      “Our nuts are nifty, nutty, and nuclear,” he shouts. He stands beside a tray lined with tiny cups filled with four nuts each. One chestnut, one macadamia nut, one peanut, and one walnut. “They are so nut-tastic that they will make you explode.”
      Never in his real skin would he say something so ridiculous. But no one knows who he is, do they?
      He thinks of Holly and the rest of the band. His knees shake when he thinks of them practicing without him. His stomach burns when he thinks of the possibility of them standing on stage, without him. But his mind—his mind fills with snow, freezing. Have they replaced him? There are tons of other bass guitarists. No, he decides. It’s too soon. Too soon.
      A vintage Volkswagen Beetle drives by. The first car in hours. It pulls up, and a woman steps out.
      “Why aren’t your nuts pink, too?” she says. Her hair is the color of tiger lilies. Her combat boots sink into the mud, and the train of her lace dress turns brown with earth. Her body, a soft whisper. He wants to know what her skin feels like. He wants to know what it would feel like to have his skin on hers.
      She walks closer to him; the soles of her shoes make a squish-squish sound. When Holly turns twenty-five, she’ll look like this, he thinks.
      Before he can say anything back, she shows him her hand, palm-up, and wiggles her fingers. Then she reaches into her pocket and pulls out a miniature spiral staircase. She stands there for a moment, staircase in her hand. Then she walks closer to him. Squish squish. He smiles. She crumbles the staircase in her hands, pouring the pieces all over the grass below his feet. Then she gives him an air-kiss, walks past his nut stand, gets in her car and drives away.
      He bends down to pick up the staircase bits, but when he does, they turn into tiny bass guitars. He wants to put his fingers on her heart-strings, kiss her neck, make music. The miniature guitars sink into the ground. They were too small for his hands, anyway.
      “Sample some nifty nuts,” he shouts.
      A yellow Mustang crawls along the road, and another woman with tiger-lily hair sticks her head out the window. Her body, a strong whisper. She’s wearing nothing but a top made of tattoo-inked flowers. He wonders what it would feel like to have her muscles spoon against him.
      A television flies toward his feet. She mouths some words. Are they for him? Does it matter? The yellow Mustang drives away. A girl with tiger-lily hair crawls out of the screen.
      “Holly?” he says.
      She’s about fourteen years old, like the real Holly. Her body, a sharp whisper. He wants to hold her hipbones and shoulder-blades in his hands.
      “Spending all your time out here without me, Dill?” she says, poking his squirrel-nose with her index finger. She’s wearing a white tank-top underneath a cropped blazer, fishnets and a skirt made from a pillowcase, just like the real Holly wears.
      He grabs her hand. She pulls away.
      “You don’t have me yet,” she says.
      He is selling these stupid nuts to gain something. To earn something. Five dollars an hour. His own money. Freedom. Dignity. Respect. All with a cover, anonymity. A separation as powerful as Holly’s combat boots, flower tattoos, pillowcase skirt.
      He tries to take off his detachable pink squirrel-head, but it’s stuck.
      “Holly,” he says. But when he speaks, clumps of flower-tattoos and pieces of lace dresses fill his mouth, muffling his words. He spits them out but they keep growing, growing.
      The pillowcase-skirt-wearing Holly strokes his fur. “Maybe you can start a new breed of pink squirrels. I’m sure tons of girls would love them. Guys, too.”
      Squish squish. The older, combat-boot-lace-skirt wearing Holly folds out of the younger Holly’s pillowcase skirt, and then the tattoo-shirted Holly blooms out of the other Holly’s combat boots. Petals fall from her skin, joining together to form pillowcase skirts, which fold into combat boots, which blossom into flowers that form pillowcases that fold into combat boots that bloom into flowers that form pillowcases that fold into combat boots that blossom into—
      Volkswagens and Mustangs speed along the road. Television sets and radios and bass guitars fly out of their windows, landing at his squirrel-feet. He tries to guard himself with his squirrel-hands, but he knows he doesn’t have to, not when he’s like this—in his suit with a purpose. The objects won’t hit him.
      From the car windows, miniature spiral staircases and speckled beetles and dime-sized horses and tigers with lilies sprouting from their feet soar into the air, landing in the muddy grass. He keeps his pink furry hands up, even though he knows he doesn’t have to.
      “What are you going to do with all this stuff, Dill?” Holly says. She sweeps her hand across her pillowcase skirt and fishnets, wiping off the mud-covered beetles that flew onto it. Then she bites her lip, forms a fist and shakes it—hard.
      He stands in the squish-squish grass as lily-sprouting tigers eat the miniature spiral-staircases, dime-sized horses, beetles, televisions, radios and bass guitars.
      “Holly?” he says.
      “You can’t have me yet,” she says. “Those tigers would rather eat bass guitars than those nuts of yours.” She tugs his squirrel-tail.
      The beetles keep crawling on her legs, and the dime-sized horses keep nibbling at her skirt, so she jumps and skips to keep them off. She skips in circles around him. Her bare feet brush the grass, shaking the ground like an electronica-orchestral arrangement of autumnwinterspringsummer.
      As she opens her palms, she faces him. She whispers something. Soft, strong, sharp. Bazillions of teeny-weeny pink squirrels spill from her hands. A whole new breed. One after the other, they hop to his furry feet. He bends over and tries getting a closer look, but they bite his squirrel-nose and run into the road before he can catch them.
      But Holly gets one. She picks up one of these miniature fuzzy-pink Dills and puts it in her pillowcase-skirt pocket, spinning around and around, around and around.

Ashley Inguanta earned her MFA from the University of Central Florida and has taught several Introduction to Creative Writing courses at the university level. She has also worked as a Creative Writing Instructor at Lakeside Alternative, a mental health facility. In January, she will begin serving as Director of Maitland Poets & Writers, leading community workshops and hosting a monthly reading series. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in Wigleaf, SmokeLong Quarterly, Gone Lawn, and Sweet: A Literary Confection, among other journals, and this year she earned an Honorable Mention in Glimmer Train for their Very Short Fiction Award. Also, Ashley's fiction is forthcoming in several anthologies, including Burrow Press’ 15 Views of Orlando, Nicole Mongahan's Stripped, and Francesca Lia Block's love magick.

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