By Suzanne Tyrpak
My fist closes around the packet. I shove it into my jeans.
The man behind the counter glances up, peers at me through black-framed glasses. “Can I help you?”
I wander through an alphabet of vitamins, another aisle of shampoo and lotion. I spot the kind my mother likes and squeeze a glob into my palm. It stinks.
“Pamela!” she screeches across the universe.
I run past stacks of Coca-cola, heading for the vegetables. Skirting a display of tomatoes, I crash into a pyramid of onions. People dance, avoiding them.
Uh-oh, here she comes. Click, click, click, on spiky heels.
I escape into the candy aisle, grab a yellow bag. Peanut M&Ms. Yum! My teeth tear the wrapping.
Her voice bounces down the aisle. “Put those back, I’m warning you.”
I dodge a shopping cart, run past Hershey’s Kisses, Gummy Bears, Strawberry Twizzlers.
The dead animal department smells. Cold catches in my throat as I pass coffins of cow, waxy chicken legs, frozen turkeys smothered in plastic wrap. What happens when you die? Do you go someplace better? Like a super-duper Wal-Mart where you can check out all the stuff you never got for Christmas.
I duck into the bathroom, head for the nearest stall, slam the door and snap the lock.
She can’t reach me now.
I pour M&M’s into my mouth. The sweet explosion makes me want to puke. I spit the mess into my palm, chucks of red and green and blue.
The bathroom door creaks open.
Tap, tap, tap across the tiles.
I take a gulp of Lysol air. Maybe, if I hold my breath, I’ll be invisible.
I see her shoes, black and shiny, pointy tips—the wicked witch.
“I know you’re upset.”
“I hate you!”
She bends down, grabs my ankle. I kick, climb onto the toilet seat. No cover. My foot slips into the bowl, splashes.
She’s tugging at the door, rattling the lock. “Let me in. I want to talk to you.”
Her face peers up from the scuffed floor.
“Your mascara’s running,” I tell her.
She tries to slide under the stall. Gets stuck.
I laugh, chocolate dripping from my mouth.
I’m choking, tasting salt. Water’s running from my eyes, snot is running from my nose. This dumb place has no toilet paper!
“Pammy, open up this door—”
I shove my hand into my pocket, feeling for my prize. I draw out the packet, rip the plastic, slide open the tiny box. My legs feel like Gummy Worms.
The razors glisten.
She’s begging now. “Come out, Sweetheart. I’ll buy you that candy.”
I prick my finger, barely feel it. A red bead forms—round and perfect as an M&M’s. It plops into the toilet bowl, a swirl of pink. I watch it disappear.
Then I draw a line.
My wrist oozes, warm and wet.
I paint a happy face in red.
Finally, I’m in control.
And now it will be Christmas, any day I like.
Suzanne Tyrpak has published short stories in Arts Perspective magazine, the Mota 9: Addiction anthology, CrimeSpree Magazine, and the anthology Pronto! Writings from Rome, along with notable authors including Dorothy Allison, Elizabeth Engstrom, Terry Brooks and John Saul. Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers awarded her first prize in the Colorado Gold Writing Contest, and Maui Writers awarded her third prize in the Rupert Hughes writing competition. Dating My Vibrator (and other true fiction), a collection of nine short stories about dating, divorce and desperation, is available on Kindle. J.A. Konrath says the stories are “pure comedic brilliance.” Red Adept says“the writing style was terrific.” Her new novel, Vestal Virgin, is also available on Kindle. To learn more about Suzanne, visit her blog.