Mary Miller

I went to a wedding reception at the house of a man who painted with his ass. The largest of these paintings was in his foyer. People stood around it and said, that's his ass, because you couldn't tell it was his ass until someone pointed it out. I stood with them. I wore a black and purple check skirt, a belt cinched tight around my waist. People were surprised by the size of it.

After, a few of us went out.

I rode in the backseat with a boy I knew from school. He hadn't thought of me before but now he had his hand on my thigh, pinching at my pantyhose. I suspected he was gay. He only paid attention to the most beautiful girls, as if he could only comment on them aesthetically. His hand went up and down. It started a fire. I raised my ass and took my pantyhose off and stuffed them in the clutch my mother let me borrow. It was empty except for a twenty dollar bill, a tube of lipstick, and a bottle of clear nail polish for runs. She was teaching me how to be a lady. I was supposed to have already learned. The boy in the driver's seat was watching me in the rearview mirror, alarmed. He thought I was his precious flower. My brother was in the passenger seat smoking his silver cigarette, not offering it around like he normally did. The boy I suspected was a homosexual said I needed to shave.

We parked and got out. I went straight for the bathroom and hovered over the bowl and read the words I knew by heart. The sink was water-stained, the mirror missing a corner. I recognized myself in it right away. When I came out, the boy from the driver's seat was waiting with a can of beer. He was so tall his body had begun to curve back around. People were always asking how tall he was. I was short, but no one ever asked exactly how.

"Thank you," I said, and I stood there for a minute while he tried to open me up and then I went and sat down with the homosexual. I let him run his hand up my skirt. Touch my panties. The ceiling began to leak, the water accumulating on the table and I watched the drops swell and swell until they could no longer contain themselves.

Mary Miller's chapbook of shorts, Less Shiny, is now out from Magic Helicopter Press. A collection of longer stories, Big World, is due out early next year on Hobart's imprint.

To link to this story directly:

Read MM's "Target Practice" from the archive.

Detail of photo on main page courtesy of pbo31.

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