Tonight we’re going to the mall to fall in love.

Illustration by Ruby A.

Illustration by Ruby A.

Dawn and me eat scrambled eggs with tall glasses of tomato juice for dinner because we’re on a diet. Dawn knows how to throw up, so she eats toast and butter, too. But my fingers go so far down my throat, and still nothing comes up. I’m a fat cow.

Dawn and me are best friends. I sleep over at her house now ever since my stepfather called me a pig for eating all his cocktail onions. I’m waiting for my mom to call and beg me to come back home, but it’s been almost two weeks now. I’m wondering if maybe their phone is broken.

Sometimes my mom spaces on time. She drinks a lot of green Hi-C with vodka in it. I’ve seen her sit down with a drink in the morning just as The View is coming on, and then it’s like next thing she knows, Extra is starting and my stepdad is walking in the door, screaming because he can’t smell any dinner.

But I’m over at Dawn’s house now. We share a single bed with the quilted pink covers. We stay up late smoking cigarettes, talking about love with the ashtray balanced between us on the sheets. Dawn loves guys who give long, wet kisses that make her eyes roll up in her head. I love bites that last like red splashes on my neck for weeks, so that everyone knows I’ve been going at it. Dawn and me both agree, though: mostly, we just want to fall in love. Tonight we’re going to the mall to fall in love.

Dawn’s mom is divorced, and Dawn gets to call her Lorraine instead of Mom. We smoke Lorraine’s Marlboro Lights at the kitchen table with a green ashtray. Lorraine is in the shower with her loofah and her pineapple-smelling shampoo, getting ready to go out with an optometrist she met at work.

Lorraine works behind the counter at the U-Haul center on Motor Parkway, and she gets to wear this tight orange dress that says U-Haul on it. She meets a lot of men because of that dress, not to mention that any guy who gets divorced ends up at U-Haul sooner or later with a sad look on his face.

Lorraine comes out of the shower and models new underwear for us. Her hair is slicked back, wet and shiny. The underwear is red lace, with a fishnet heart cut out in the center, so you can see Lorraine’s hair down there. And it’s sort of dirty blond, even though Lorraine’s hair on top is jet black. There’s a long purple scar up Lorraine’s stomach from where they pulled Dawn out, but Lorraine’s stomach is flat and tight like a boy’s. She must know how to throw up, too.

“Ta-da,” Lorraine says. “You look foxy, Lorraine,” Dawn says.

“Yeah,” I say. “No doubt.”

The optometrist pulls up in a Chrysler, dark blue with brown interior. I’m thinking, Loser, but Lorraine runs out of the kitchen, shoving her earrings in, smoothing down a red satin dress she bought at Shoes and Things for $20, swiping on lipstick and pressing her lips together. She’s blushing and breathing fast as she lets the optometrist inside.

He looks bewildered, unprepared to be stepping into a woman’s house.

“Dawn,” Lorraine says in her giggle voice that is saved for men only, “I’ll be home late, or not at all.” Dawn rolls her eyes. “Watch it now, young lady.”

“OK,” Dawn mumbles. “I’ll feed the fish.”

“OK, Lorraine,” the optometrist says nervously. “Seafood OK?”

Lorraine just giggles and takes his arm. They head out to the car and drive away, and I want to cry, thinking of that skanking old guy with his hands all over Lorraine’s perfect, tight body. But then I remember Dawn and me are on our own now.

We sit down at the kitchen table and light cigarettes and drink half a glass each of Lorraine’s pink zinfandel, because more than that she notices.

“Man,” Dawn says, “I can’t wait to get a place of my own. All I’m going to have in the fridge is pink zinfandel and powdered doughnuts and 7-Up.” Dawn loves powdered doughnuts because she says they’re easy to throw up.

Tonight we’re off to the mall to hunt for babes. Dawn says if she falls in love at the mall, she’ll go out to the Pit. “And leave me hanging by the fountain,” I scream.

“No,” she says, plugging in her crimping iron. “There’ll be a babe for you, too. We’ll find two babes and fall in love and make them take us to the Pit.”

Dawn’s going to be a stewardess when she graduates high school, or work at the U-Haul with Lorraine. I’m going to Wilfred Beauty Academy to learn acrylic nails. When I get out of Wilfred, no one will call me a fat cow. They’ll call me a nail stylist.

I have a new makeup stick in dark coral pink. I put it on above my eyes like I saw in Beauty Digest. Dawn puts it on her cheeks and outlines her lips in burnt sienna. She rubs a stick of musk behind her ears and under her arms, filling the room with the smell of a jungle.

We lie flat on the bed next to each other to zip our jeans. When I stand up, there’s a role of fat over my waistband, so I borrow a loose sweater from Dawn, something with drawstrings at the bottom. Dawn is straight and thin and wears padded bras that make tiny puff breasts under her shirts. I wish I could throw up like her.

We each swallow four of Lorraine’s Xenadrines and two of her NoDozes and then fluff our hair out so we look like wild animals. We only take one each of Lorraine’s Valiums, because those she counts.

The cab lets us off at Sears. We go in through the luggage department and walk straight to the bathroom. Dawn doesn’t like the way her hair turned out, so she wets it in the sink and kneels under the hand dryer, on her knees on the tile floor, to do it over. I look at myself in the mirror. My hair and nails are perfect. I know how to copy the looks. But my cheeks are full and red, not hollow and sharp like Dawn’s. Tomorrow I’ll eat nothing but tuna fish and water.


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  • MikaylaT May 3rd, 2013 3:32 PM

    Wow..this story was

  • limegreensunset May 3rd, 2013 3:36 PM

    i love this.

  • abby111039 May 3rd, 2013 4:27 PM

    This was beautiful. It certainly hit home for me. Well done.

  • jenaimarley May 3rd, 2013 4:28 PM

    This makes me so sad!

  • elliecp May 3rd, 2013 4:36 PM

    Wow. That was so powerful, and relatable. I started reading and just couldn’t stop…there should be more stories about reality like this out there.

  • Hibawot May 3rd, 2013 4:42 PM

    Oh wow..this blog is always my favorite source of intellect and entertainment. Go guys! :)

  • Saana V May 3rd, 2013 4:50 PM

    It’s sad to think that i was kinda in her place just few months back. It wasn’t that bad tho, my “dawn” wasn’t such a bitch but we were on a never ending diet and she knew how to throw up – i didn’t. I ended our friendship after realizing how much shit she had caused to me. It’s better now.

  • Xtina May 3rd, 2013 6:46 PM

    This is my absolute favorite short story ever and I am so happy to see it on Rookie!!! If you guys are interested in reading more stories like it, it is from a book called “Evil” by Rennie Sparks. I ordered it from Amazon- it seems like its not really in print anymore and I’m pretty sure it was sent to me by the author herself!

  • MabelEnchanted May 3rd, 2013 6:49 PM

    Once I started reading I couldn’t stop…so amazing.

  • catpower44 May 3rd, 2013 7:27 PM

    This is an amazing story. I love your writing! This is so sad, but I still love it very much. I cannot relate to the characters, but it was still amazing.

  • K8 is Gr8 May 3rd, 2013 8:54 PM

    Wow… That left me speechless. I thought it was going to have a happy ending, but it didn’t…

  • onewithahippiesmile May 3rd, 2013 10:09 PM

    i really loved it, beautiful story, good text, i like the irony on it. thats inspiring stuff, made me wanna make a movie with that! just amazing xxxxx

  • peanutbutter May 3rd, 2013 11:28 PM

    So painful to read.

  • Tallulah May 4th, 2013 2:05 AM

    This is so sad, towns and friendships like that kinda make me feel claustrophobic

  • Nomali May 4th, 2013 6:14 AM

    Oh wow.

  • neenbean May 4th, 2013 1:26 PM

    This was fantastic, incredible writing. When I went through my eating disorder it was all on my own, I had no girls like Dawn around me to push me to keep going… I don’t know how I would have turned out if that was the case.

    I remember girls like her though in high school. They never end up doing much with their lives or drop out early.

    I feel like this story could easily be turned into a film, or a piece of longer fiction. It’s really impressive, painful, beautiful. <3

  • MaggieMae May 4th, 2013 3:25 PM

    Wow! So many wonderful stories have been posted lately, awesome job Rookie writers! Please continue with with awesomeness!

  • unicornconnect May 4th, 2013 7:38 PM

    Wow, this makes me really really sad.

  • jill May 5th, 2013 1:45 AM

    tragic story. their friendship kind of reminds me of the movie “13″

  • I W May 5th, 2013 3:35 PM

    This is beautiful. I need to read more by this author! So tragic and so rooted in the mundane at the same time.

  • sunshine May 6th, 2013 10:49 AM

    this is so magical and beautiful

  • Jes June 9th, 2013 3:07 PM

    I love it.

  • Hailey Mah June 22nd, 2013 4:23 PM

    All I can say is…wow. This story was so moving, realistic and devastating. I can tell that it’s going to follow me around all day.