Fiction · 09/11/2019

Stacy and Chad

I imagine Stacy when she’s not around, imagine her sinuous legs stretching across the firm white sheet of a hospital bed, swish.

I imagine the sounds her body makes: Plip plop goes Stacy’s flesh as skin balloons with gelatin, screetch goes bone against bone as the cartilage curls away. A clink like zipper clips detaching from one another as a row of her xylophone-key ribs is removed and the whoosh of voluptuous goo oozes into the empty cavity in her torso.

Chad’s desk is the one diagonal from me. When I see him I think of Stacy, and I imagine all the secret bits of her, the fillings and the incisions that not even he sees.

Chad loves Stacy in a way that’s quiet and unthinking, yet blissful, like unwrapping the bright metallic sheet folded over a stick of gum, crinkle.

Today Stacy meets Chad at work, and he kisses her. Stacy doesn’t say hi to me even though I’m in the desk diagonal from Chad. I watch them kiss, certain they won’t notice my gaze.

Whir go his tight, sharp cheekbones across her pink, sticky skin, lacquered tongue darting in and out of bleach-gleaming teeth. Bap go his taut fingers rapping against her silicone-hard ass. Their pants rub together, nylon straining against knots of polyester, slurp. A fissure, crack, as Stacy edges away from Chad and giggles nervously, teehee, pushing blond filaments behind icy-sharp shoulders anxiously.

Stacy hates Chad. I know this with perfect clarity. Chad loves Stacy because Stacy is perfect (I pause to imagine her perfection: it sounds like plip plop screetch click whoosh) and Stacy hates Chad because Chad loves Stacy because Stacy is perfect.

I hide behind the aurora of cerulean desktop radiance, painting my face marine, thalassic. I know Stacy only through watching her hate Chad; I have watched her glow and wilt in turn through her occasional visits to the office, watched her body turn inside-out by tracking the trajectory of curvature against her tight blouses (first tame and parabolic, later wild and exponential), watched her love Chad desperately and hate Chad dully.

Mostly, I have watched Chad love Stacy quietly, thoughtlessly, a passive vessel so unsuited for her laborious perfection. I imagine the scream that has ripped across her body through agonizing procedures and cinching diets, and watch as Chad kisses her forehead in plain view of his colleagues, like nothing’s wrong. I know he can’t hear her scream like I can.

Stacy, Stacy. I blink out each syllable in morse, savouring the trochee of her name. I evoke her telepathically: You should be with me instead. Though I know I could never love her like Chad does, if only because I would never see past her fraudulent body: her brick-boobs, her spider-lady waist, the cutesy ridiculousness of her eye-to-nose ratio, leporine and weepy. I would never see her as perfect. I would see her for who she is: a patchwork, a girl sewn together with piecemeal fragments of mismatched flaws that masquerade as improvements.

Stacy, Stacy. You should be with me instead. I see you.

She blinks, too much. Blink. BLINK. Short and long. Morse. I read her delicate eyelash-flutter words.

I still imagine Stacy when she’s not around. But now I also imagine Stacy imagining me. I still watch Chad’s quiet brand of love with contempt when Stacy visits the office, but now the contempt isn’t laced with envy.

Because he can’t read the purling knots of Morse magic she winks at me from his desk, diagonal from mine.

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Isabel Armiento studies English at the University of Toronto, where she is Editor-in-Chief of a campus newspaper and actively involved in several other campus publications. Her work has been published or is pending publication in The Mighty Line, Lemon Theory, Adroit Journal, Antithesis Journal, and elsewhere, and she won third place in the Hart House Literary Competition for prose fiction.