Captain Ravioli is not a hero. She swears and she smokes and her hairs dyed funny.
No, for real. Shi-hi-hit.
A cursory inhale, two polite coughs. Her lower jaw sags and buckles and shes too whacked or too lazy to smile. She is in the bathtub.
No way, Jam. Ten inches is, like, thats too much. You know? I met this one guy in Oslo, he was like, not black, but you know, he was something, right? And just halfway through he tells me hes never been measured before, so I bring out this tape, and its maybe eleven inches
No you didnt, Captain.
You brought measuring tape to a fucking sex den?
There. Told her so.
Fuck you, Jam. I make clothes, you know that.
Weak, Captain. The opposition can smell your bullshit, even over the phone while youre burning your ethnically-sourced patchouli oil.
Anyway. Point is, that much will ruin you. Do whats right, keep it tight, no?
Ill try not to snigger. Ravioli was once having full sex an almost unfeasibly large number of times, not including a drunken attempt at anal while suffering from flu. (She coughed too regularly for what her would-be lover seductively referred to as consistent penetration, then vomited on her older sisters pillowcase.)
Like I said, Captain is no hero. Her arms are turning pink and mottled in the steam and haze of bathwater and musty blue marijuana smoke, arms which are untoned, passive; directionless. She stomped her slick iPhone on the cool ceramic lake of a cistern, and rolled a scrub of insipid misery into two-skin white-paper order.
Keep it clean, Jammy D, youre on speaker. Dads got the ears of a fucking bat and the eyes of a cyclops or something.
A cyclops only has one eye, Rav.
Well yeah, but its freaking massive, right?
Stop talking now, Captain.
There is some shuffling on the other end of the line. Captain looks down at her blanched stomach, her ballooning breasts, her dimpled knees. She took up too much space to fit in at boarding school, and has been spreading herself around ever since.
Ravioli ripped the pube-like hair from the head of her joint, then twisted the stump of its sickly white neck. There was an almost inaudible crackle as she singed the maimed remains.
Anyway, thats cool R. You know I can do discreet. So like I said, thats what Ive been at. Boyfriends and college and all that jazz. What about you, Captain? Its been too fucking long.
Jam is an 18-year-old Arts student, with a vegan haircut and the imagination of a poached egg. She is not usually the provider of astute statements or correct assesments. And yet, reader; yet, this time, she was correct. Ravioli has been living with her father since a schizophrenic episode last year had rendered her unfit for independent living, by both the state and all who know her. As is always the case when the need for care is recognized, the deliverance of it soon dwindled, and Raviolis few friends disappeared. Jam has not spoken to Ravioli in ten months. She is calling because her mother is Still Concerned.
Captain is taking a while to respond to Jams hackneyed questioning. She is doing this for three reasons;
She had finished her second joint in thirty-seven minutes. She is barely able to recognize what questions are.
There is a rubber duck in the bathtub which has been attempting to peck Raviolis falanges off for the past forty-three seconds. This is understandably disconcerting.
Captain has been living in a drug-fuelled chasm of loneliness and despair, desperately trying to try and wanting to want something, anything, in her life. She has been drowning under the numb ebb and flow of self-pity and fury, and sometimes does not leave her room for days. She is scared of automatic doors and has become terrified of extremes of noise, movement, or emotion, and has therefore just slit her pale wrists. The bite of the glinting silver balde, the pulling and clouding of scarlet blood in the steam and clamour of bathwater, are all-consuming and beautiful. She does not want to talk.
Raviolis father is a very rich man. He owns shares in an international pharmecutical company, and has three different Masters degrees in corporate ass-licking. The tap of his brogue against dark wooden floors has just become audible.
Rav, your dinner's ready. Fucking pasta. Every fucking day. Can't you ask Lolita for something different?
Fuck off, dad.
Captain had never been a polite child.
I'm on the phone, man, anyway. I'll come out when I'm good and ready, right?
To who? The man in the fucking moon? Your imaginary friends? The Gestapo?
Ravioli feels like vomiting. She does not reply.
Yo Rav. You still there?
Eleanor! Dinner. Is. READY.
The white walls smudge and bleed to a shimmering pink, steam and wooziness merging crisp white and screaming red into a conservative, palatable, everyday pink. I have always hated fucking pink.
This is how her mother had died, Captain knew. Not the razor, not the bathtub, granted; a coiled-up rope, a sturdy pipe, a chair. But, potato potahto.
Not hungry, Dad. Go do your homework.
Captain was beginning to feel faint. I want to help her, reader. I do. The curse of the narrator is to deliver what you've created, no matter how much you want to undo it.
Rav? I'm hanging up now. Enjoy your bath, man. Peace out. I say that now, but it's ironic, you know? Like when I watch The Notebook with Lee?
Silence, at least from Ravioli. I am screaming. I am wailing and writhing and shouting until my red raw throat bleeds that fucking pink away. I am telling Jam to call the police, the ambulance, a nurse, Captain's dad, anyone. But I am not heard. The storyteller lives behind a glass pane, and her fists are too weak to punch it through.
So yeah, adios, I guess.
If your fucking pasta is left on the fucking table for one more fucking moment, I swear I will break that door down.
I want the pasta. I want to reach for her phone and dial 911. I want to unchain myself from the keyboard and pull her out, stem the bloodflow, staunch the bleeding. I want my hands back, my knees, my stupid yellow hair. Captain doesn't even look like me anymore. She hasn't spoken to me. I have been behind the monitor of her mind, pressing buttons, watching, waiting, no control over what I press or what it means to press them, but an immutable desire to keep doing so. The Eleanor fucking Parable.
Ravioli is weak. She can't breathe properly, ragged gasps balooning from her quivering mouth like drunken jellyfish.
Speak to me, Rav. Stop being the captain for one fucking second.
Last chance, Ellie.
Don't I know it. Captain sputters and slumps, her arms limp and white. Every corridor in her mind is closing, yellow lights whirring and spinning, the hum of a generator reduced to her sharpened-gravel cough. I can't speak I can't see I can't move I need to break out.
Eleanor, I'm leaving, and you should know that there will be no more food for you tonight. Hear that? Zip. Nada. Nothing.
His tap-tapping footsteps tick their way to silence, a clock in a bell jar. Captain's phone whirrs and beeps, the vacant digital shout of the terminally unengaged. She is shuddering, her body convulsing. I can feel her heartbeat like a steam train, her head like a rising cloud of orange dust.
She left me enough time to hang her bleeding arm across the side of the bathtub, so that the white mirror of clean ceramic was sullied with a vibrant, furious red. That bathroom already had too much fucking pink.