Fiction ยท 05/23/2012

You Don't Defriend Them

He makes a happy face out of Gummi Bears on a bright yellow plate and gives it to her. Red ones for the smile, a green one for each eye. You know this because you sit in your dark room every day staring at your laptop. You see when she posts it as her profile picture, brags about it in her status update.

He changes his profile back to In a relationship. When she changes hers from Single to In a Relationship, twenty of her friends like it.

She tags him in pictures of them lying in his bed with Gummi Bears on their mouths and eyes. You barely recognize his room. The lights are on, the blinds are open. The books on the bed are gone, replaced by fluffy stuffed bears. He posts pictures of the two of them labeled Mr. and Mrs. Gummi. He’s gaining weight.

You wonder if he ever cries to her. If she ever reads to him as he lies in the dark. If he ever asks her to make gruel, because it’s the only thing he can stomach. He said he would love you forever. You let him take off your shirt, let him see the scars and scabs on all over your arms. You should have known better.

You are a skin-picker. You hate it, you hate yourself, you can’t stop. You watch TV or read a book and don’t even know you’re scratching and pinching away like a grooming baboon. Or you see a scab, feel it lumpy and rough under your fingers, and you can’t wait, you have to pick it, pick it now, peel it back, pull it off , feel it release, the burning, oozing underneath but smooth, smooth again, and you roll the scab crusty and pliable between your fingertips. Then drop it.

You trusted him. You change your status update to Goodbye Gruel World. Your friends like this, think it’s hilarious.

You watch your notifications. You wait.

He changes his profile picture to two Gummi Bears kissing.

Can he really be this happy and vapid? Maybe your pain was so disgusting and raw, so rancid that it scared his pain right out of him. Maybe your love soothed him just enough that he could drop you like an old scab and dance away into the carefree Candyland of perky princesses.

You open your drawer. Take out a pair of scissors and the bag of Gummis you bought. You slice open the package and dump the Gummis on the floor, then pick up each bear, each clear and red and green and orange and yellow squishy bear and you slash its head off. You pile up the decapitated bodies, take off your shirt, pick off a scab and watch the blood puddle. You rain red on the massacred Gummis.

You take a photo of the Gummi holocaust and smile, imagining posting it as your profile picture. Some friends would be sure to comment EWWWW, or make sarcastic and witty responses, jaded and not easily shocked. The sensitive among them might wonder if they need to call your mother or the school counselor. But what about Mr. and Mrs. Gummi? How would they feel? What would they do?

You don’t upload the picture. You decide to use it as your desktop photo and wallpaper on your phone instead. You don’t want them to defriend you.

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Jeanne Holtzman is an aging hippie, writer and health care practitioner, not necessarily in that order. Her work has appeared in Night Train, Blip Magazine, The Los Angeles Review, Used Furniture Review, elimae, Stripped: A Collection of Anonymous Flash and elsewhere.