Eight of the World

Jessica cries in the shower, where her voice is drowned in the rushing water, where the water down her face keeps the fear away. It is hard to stop, there, with no one to hear, so she cries for a long time, forty minutes or an hour, until all the hot water is gone and she is blue-lipped and shaking. The mirror lies to her as she breaks a comb, shows her a stranger’s face and a stranger’s hands that don’t, quite, match her movements. When she turns off the light her reflection is just an instant behind. For an instant her reflection is bright and she wonders.

She wears her clothes inside out to dodge her luck, open doors wrong-handed, keeps salt in the heels of her shoes. The skies are filled with ghosts and the faint outline of rings.

“You live too much in your head,” says her boss. “It’s not healthy, a young girl like you, staying inside all the time. You should get out more.”

Syd leans over the cubicle. “Some of us are going out later,” she says. “Mark and David, Leah, Jasmine and her boyfriend. You should come with us.”

Jessica is afraid but she nods. Syd’s hair waves like it’s underwater and the lines in her neck snap open and closed. Jessica touches the nail in her pocket and wonders.