A Girl and Her Lacuna
The girl sat on a warm patch of grass in her backyard, legs folded like a yogi’s, eyes closed, lips puckered. Her hair was parted down the middle: half hung down to her shoulders in thin braids while the other half shot up and out of her head like water from a hydrant.
Because she thought she was alone, she slowly raised her palm to her face and gently applied her mouth to it, moving her lips as she’d seen countless lips move on TV. She opened her eyes to slits. She quickly shut them again, against the absence of that beautiful boy.
“But Logan,” she sighed. “You said you don’t like girls like me. You lied.”
The Lacuna, who’d been invited to exist by the force and frequency of the girl’s fantasies, sat in front of her, quivering. It was beginning to spill over. Its transparent fibers quickened. The girl felt the moisture from her own mouth gather in the pit of her palm, and the Lacuna felt it too. It wasn’t quite enough for the girl, but the Lacuna feasted on the sensation.
Because her eyes were still closed, she didn’t see the Lacuna pulse, bending the air to its newly-formed will just as heat bends light on a hot day. The Lacuna grew three times on the strength of the girl’s daydream, on the vengeful, avid things the girl imagined could happen if she and Logan could truly see one another, and touch. With this new heft, the Lacuna pulled the future into itself like bloodied water down a drain.
“I don’t like girls like you,” it mimicked aloud, its voice a dark thread. The girl didn’t hear the Lacuna because, at the same time, her mother called, “Come in and let’s do the other half of your hair.”
The Lacuna followed the girl into the house. This was the first time its reach had extended so far. It hid in the shadows of the girl’s bedroom for the rest of the day and pressed itself to the girl’s body the moment she fell asleep, so that she dreamed of being ripped in two, of each half going about its half-a-body business. She awoke miserable and feverish, her skin too sensitive for nightclothes. She never wore them again. The Lacuna was pleased. “I don’t like girls like you,” it whispered in her ear, from time to time, so that she thought she was simply remembering.
By the time the girl was sixteen, the Lacuna could leave the dark corners of her house on its own. But it rarely did. It liked her as much as it didn’t like her, so it kept her close. The girl had grown beautiful, with long eyes and skin like fired clay. She couldn’t quite see herself, however, because something jealous had slipped over her eyes like shades against her own light.
The Lacuna was man-sized now, and would often stand between girl and mirror, between girl and mother, bending the air and warping messages from both. For a long time it stayed just this side of visible.
But then the Lacuna started to take on wisps of unwanted color, fed as it was by the girl’s moods and energies. Where a soul might have been if it was human, there were bottled-up crying jags in deep blue and refusals to eat in bile yellow and wishes that Mother would just die in deep red. When the Lacuna took these in, they appeared inside of it in rainbow streaks that eventually faded. But one day, the girl, who was very angry after suffering humiliation at the hands of a new crush, punched the medicine cabinet mirror, hard. Broken glass fell down into the sink, webbed with her blood. She ran to her room to cry, leaving a sticky trail.
The Lacuna gazed down into the bathroom sink. It could not help itself; it found this bloody, broken glass very beautiful. It swallowed each piece, down to the silver dust. The girl’s reflection still held fast to the glass. With her broken down inside itself, the Lacuna fell in love, fed by the girl’s rage.
But love is not without its difficulties, and the Lacuna realized it had a problem: it was now far too visible. Each of its movements brought reflected light glinting to the eye. But it couldn’t give up the glass: those puzzle-piece tokens of new love. In order to go undetected by the girl, and therefore to stay by her side, the Lacuna would have to hide in plain sight. That moonless night, it went off in search of skin. It knew exactly where to go.
By the time the Lacuna reached its destination, it could feel its form shrinking down, becoming flaccid. It had never been away from the girl this long. It would need to act quickly to rally strength for the task ahead. The lacuna cast about for a source of power—a squirrel dreaming nearby, a masturbating neighbor in this charming little cul-de-sac, and then it remembered: the snapshot of the girl her mirror had taken, just before the mirror was obliterated. The Lacuna arranged the image of her, in her rage, inside itself and focused on it. The Lacuna was half-surprised when it began to gather strength from the reflection. It rang the doorbell and waited.
The last thing Logan Cromartie saw before he lost his skin to the Lacuna was a mirror image of a girl he didn’t quite remember from grade school, the sliver of glass containing her fist splintering off to jag down on his head, then continuing smoothly down his body, liberating his insides from crown to toe. Logan couldn’t know it then, would not know anything for very much longer, but his lips would come to know that forgotten girl’s lips very well, over her trusting, haunted lifetime.