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WITH A SWIVEL and jut she shifted from leg to leg. The sway to her broad hips was suggestive of the pendulum motion to a slow bell—back-and-forth—albeit with an inaudible knell. The pale yellow fabric of her knee-length skirt would pull taut against the thick of each thigh as she placed her weight on them. Back-and-forth.
What must’ve been a particularly lascivious breeze tumbled through; scattering some dead leaves of brown and yellow ochre about the coarse surface of the redbrick paved path with a faint, slithering rattle—hsstsstsss. It paused briefly before fingering lightly at the hem of her skirt. Not yet satisfied, this stray zephyr swelled to send the back-end of the butter-colored fabric leisurely lilting upwards, exposing the two pink hemispheres of her plump ass snug in sheer white nylon with lace trim. The balloon of her skirt fell, coming to rest still as she smoothed it out with her palms against the supple pale flesh at the back of her knees. This peepshow was brief and went unnoticed by all but the wind.
Mireille* shifted once more to readjust the weight of the black case strapped to her back, which was designed to contain the component mouthpiece, piston valves, bent tubing, and flared bell of a brass instrument: in this case a trumpet. A flock of thin women were approaching while absorbed in an exaggerated flutter of laughter. With their gaunt aesthetics of wanton sinew and lanky bones; tapered ribcages topped with cushion breasts, pushed up and pressed together; some with narrow skirts that clasped at hips below protruding ilac crests; some with slender legs bound in Lycra tights that descended into the fleece interiors of chunky sheepskin boots; or, others with jean shorts of skimpy dimensions, mechanically scissor-cut with rough precision in the factory, and pantyhose-clad twigs concluding with a glissade into awkward angles of stiletto heels; all with long acrylic fingernails slightly curled, like talons of raptors; all with faces painted bright and sharp with a slather of orange-tinged foundation and metallic cosmetics encircling the eyes, from which long lashes coil; all with eyebrows tweezed fine as razors: they resembled avian descendants not yet too far removed from the Cretaceous period. The little behind they did posses was achieved through spines distorted by the height of heels.
An acquaintance of hers, Chuck, would refer to women of this appearance as “the-dick-&-diet-crowd,” as that is what he believed the preoccupations of their waking hours consisted of. Accompanied by a little puff exhaled from the nostrils, Mireille’s lips curled to a smirk at the remembrance of this amusing designation. With continual, but furtive tugs, yanks, and pulls inserted between every other move they made, the girls would clutch at the hems of their garments to either prevent them from a revealing ride up their little hips and thighs, or to remove an uncomfortable wedge of blue denim. One young woman who resembled nothing more than a chicken bone in boots daubed with flesh-colored greasepaint was addressing the rest while employing the lip-bumbling honey and loose-jowled lift of an infant’s voice: “I-know-but, oh my gawd, you have just gotta get The Black Box! More than that but, every man should be like forced to read it to find out just what women really want, yah know? Oh, and the sequel, Once You Go Black Box—it’s just so, ouough, so steamy! I-know-but…”
“I dunno Alexa,” another cut her off with a twirl of her skinny fingers, “sounds gross.” This one, who had so little meat to distinguish her face from the skull beneath, seemed unable to communicate if slight ticks of the neck did not accompany her words. Her mouth congealed into a sour pout that was carried about on a disapproving nod. Then she added, “weird.”
This gaggle of fashionable theropods went by with click-clack footsteps upon the brick road that wound through the scattered trees on the far-end of the college campus. Their choir cackles and shouts of “Oh my god, I knooow!” dissipated into the autumn-adorned branches of oak trees as well as the occasional green conifer. It took Mireille quite some time to train her mind to abstain from a mechanical lunge towards questions of whether strangers’ laughter in public was somehow resultant from her presence or not. This conscious negation would eventually permit her on occasion to forget that she was even physically present at all, endowing her processes of perception with a seemingly more passive quality that allowed her to further simply enjoy the stimulation gathered from whatever scenes she happened to encounter along her way. At other times, however, she could feel herself twist and sweat.
When relatively younger, Mireille’s recognition of this insecurity’s inexplicable persistence often made her fear that she was developing into something of a schizophrenic, or at least suffering from acute paranoia. However, as she matured—traversing through her teens over to the tail end of her twenties and into the onset of her thirties—she found that this trait was ecumenical among people. The facts of commonplace neurosis and rote psychosis calmed her (not only in regards to this, but a whole slew of human eccentricities).
Us all being somewhat mentally ill—according to definitions she gleaned from a required and overpriced psychology textbook and its numerous citations to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders—was a balm to the psychological anguish that accompanies adolescence and the awkward moments that often occur in the years that follow. Those moments—typically inconsequential and forgotten by other parties in attendance—can cling like limpets in one’s memory and at any random moment of recollection compel one to slap their palm upon their dull forehead like a cartoon idiot struck with the sudden acknowledgment that they have indeed gone off a cliff. Now, involuntarily sweating and stuck-through with the shrapnel of regret, this victim of memory is left to utter under-breath a Möbius strip recording of the perceived infraction; perhaps even mumble out a little, “god, I’m so stupid.” She believed lunacy, egalitarian by nature if not degree, was simply a tacit condition of sentient existence. This conviction helped Mireille reduce the memory of these sorts of incidents down to the psychological weight of a blooper reel. If there was something fundamentally wrong with her, well then, there was something fundamentally wrong with everybody!
* Although customarily her name, according to its French roots, would be pronounced mee-RAY, Mireille’s parents were unaware of this when they picked it out of a little white book, so she has been raised as Mer-El; with a little brother named Joe-Ah-Quin, spelled Joaquin. She would sometimes wonder just what was going on with her mother and step-father around the time of their conception, as her older brother and step-brothers all sported names such as Marc, David, and Peter.
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