Something Wicked

Something Wicked by Lesley Anne Cowan

Book: Something Wicked by Lesley Anne Cowan Read Free Book Online
Authors: Lesley Anne Cowan
you’re busy or stoned. And then you’re stuck down inside all that guck, and it’s awful.
    So I try to keep out of that hole by doing sober things. I decorate my bedroom wall with magazine photos, creating a huge floor-to-ceiling collage. I finish a book almost every two days. And I decide to get an early start at making the animals’ Christmas toys for work. Christmas is my favourite time to be at the clinic. It’s also a good way to get out of spending all day cooped up with my mom and Crystal and Freestyle and whatever assorted boyfriend my mother has at the time. I have a good excuse to leave the apartment for a few hours in the afternoon, and when I come back everyone is so drunk they barely notice my return. I started the tradition two years ago, when I began volunteering. I make little presents for every animal that has to stay in the hospital, whether they are sick or just abandoned by their families who’ve gone on fancy vacations. And on Christmas Day I borrow Freestyle’s stupid Santa hat, jingle some bells, and go cage to cage to give each animal its gift.
    I can’t predict exactly how many dogs, cats, rabbits, and whatnot there will be, so I start my sketch ideas in October and make at least ten toys by December so I have enough time for the last-minute bird or guinea pig toy. This year I decide that cats will get sock gifts. Giovanni gives me a plastic bag full of his old socks and I mess up the living room for a week,making “sneaky peaky serpents.” I put two jingly rubber cat toy balls at either end and tie them in place. I also tuck a little catnip inside, just to keep them interested. Then I sew on two buttons at each end, like taunting eyes, and I attach a long red twisting pipe cleaner for a tongue.
    Making the toys keeps me busy for about a week. But then I’m bored again and the thoughts come flooding in, about Michael, or about my mom, or about us not having enough money and why the fuck I’m so angry all the time, and I’m so close to just opening the kitchen cupboard and starting on a bottle of vodka.
    I’m so pathetically antsy that I go to a movie with Rachel ’cause I know I won’t get into trouble with her. She’s been asking me to go out a few times, mentioning we should do something after work. We get along well enough. We have some laughs. So finally I mention this movie and we make plans to go after our Friday shift. We drive in her fancy white Mini and I feel like royalty, not having to take the bus.
    Rachel is giggly and bubbly and so publicly happy it’s embarrassing. Nauseating, really. She makes such a point of having fun that I don’t want to have fun. I don’t know what it is. It’s as if being around someone really happy just makes me more mad. She takes my arm in hers as we go up the escalator. She texts her friends a thousand times. She insists on playing a game of pinball. She’s not nerdy or naive. She’s just … I don’t know. Clean?
    We buy popcorn and drinks and sit in the back row. She immediately puts her feet up on the back of the seat in front of her, and when the lady to the left complains about it, she doesn’t take them off, which surprises me. Impresses me, I suppose.
    While we wait for the previews, Rachel insists on giving me a hand massage. She’s taking a shiatsu course at her mother’swellness centre and says it’s her homework to practise two hours of massage on people this week. I will be her last fifteen minutes. I reluctantly give her my hand. It seems a little strange, two girls holding hands. It’s like we’re lesbians or something. But I don’t say anything, because in these situations it’s more embarrassing to admit it’s embarrassing. And in the end it’s actually pretty good, and I feel myself relax into the seat a little more. My hand becomes this floppy, boneless mush that she prods and pulls and pokes, and I laugh a little to myself, because if one of my friends saw me now, they’d piss themselves laughing.
    At the

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