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Predator

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Jun. 18th, 2012 | 05:21 pm

Nothing’s certain but death and clown porn. Or at least, the certainty that if you can attach the word “porn” to any other word, you can google and there it will be, lurking in the dark corners of the web like the black spidery mass—spiculated, they called it—in the grey MRI image of Hollie’s left breast. It was difficult to believe in an invisible spider, so she remained uncertain.

Facebook:
Eric Cash was at UCSF Medical Center and 8 other places.

She looked in the mirror, where the smeary pink and blue across her face matched the makeup wipe in her hand. In the lower left corner, there was a twitch, the skin of her breast picking up the light as what looked like a spider extended an articulated leg. Perhaps it was hungry? What would a breast-spider eat?

“Eric?”

He was there in an instant, ever since he’d moved up from L.A., after the migraines and the weird all-day tiredness, he was always there when she called. He’d never been slow, but his twitchy energy pulsed like a squirrel, indirect, unfocused. Now he tightened like a laser beam, Hermes ready to bring oranges from the end of the earth.

“Can we get some cookies?”

“Yeah, sure, whatever you want.”

“And maybe a burger?”

“Totally.” He met her eyes in the mirror as she pulled off her pink-candy-floss wig. His hand went to touch her hair, still growing out and falling out at the same time. “You made two grand.”

“With my clothes on, even. Well, most of them. Didn’t know I had so many friends.”

“It was a good benefit. People had a good time. You were awesome.”

Facebook:
“You guys look cool! Where are you from? London? England? Are you in a band?”
“You didn't leave us too many options there. I'm from New Orleans, Louisiana, she's from Missouri, I'm a comic, and she's a porn star.”
And then everyone in Giant Burger went silent.

The first time, there were posters on the ceiling. Soothing purple flowers, sort-of-inspiring mountainscapes. She’d never been an outdoors person.

Today, beige drop-ceiling tiles were about as much as she could handle. Maybe that’s why hospital colors were boring and ugly, you wouldn’t have to feel bad about not being excited by something beautiful.

Beneath her left armpit, her fingers fastened on the small ridges in her skin, four and four, as thin as needles, the tiny lump of a body between.

Facebook:
With a name like ‘breast clinic’, you'd think it'd be a little livelier

Rolling past the darkened windows of the private offices, she saw something move, and stopped. Beneath her gown, the skin rippled, and she reached up and untied the neck, pulling the green cotton down around her waist. The spider had migrated to the top of her breast, God only knew what its mandibles had chewed through to get there. She tapped on her sternum.

“Hey!”

The spider paused. She tapped again.

“Hey! This isn’t cool!”

The spider turned its eyes towards the mirror—how many did they have?—and she saw them glowing red beneath her skin, like holding a flashlight in your hand at camp, trying to see the bones in your fingers.

Facebook:
Dear person messaging me to suggest I build an Orgone Accumulator. You're so fucking lucky you weren't near enough to headbutt. She's dying of cancer, not lack of nutty shit. And trust me, if orgasmic energy could help her, she'd be fucking cured by now.

She started reading about spiders, wondering what they liked. The number of eggs they could lay was terrifying—what if the doctors got this one, and, like a Twilight Zone episode, left an egg sac behind?

Eric brought her some chocolate-covered grasshoppers from Cioccolato but it was a bad solids week. She made him eat them, and he tossed them up like popcorn and caught them in his mouth, his aim perfect from years of juggling.

“Do it again in the lobby and we’ll pass the hat,” she said.

Facebook:
I'm pretty sure the doctors upped Hollie's sass dosage while I was gone.

Seriously, what sort of sadistic prick schedules chemotherapy at 930am on a saturday?

When Eric brought the ring, the spider craned its neck to see, and sneered at the size of the diamond.

“It’s exactly right,” Hollie said, and thumped her chest to squash it, which hadn’t worked the last eight times.

Facebook:
her stupid, loud beeping IV has been officially banned from the wedding, too, so if anyone wants to sleep through it, they'll be able to.

She could feel the spider moving in the night. Less at home, where it seemed intimidated by the turquoise Eric had painted the walls before bringing her to the new apartment. He had opened all the windows and doors and spent hours moving from room to room with a fan, getting the smell out, not wanting her to be sick. But during the weekly trips to the clinic, IV plugged into the PICC line (no hot tubs for months now!) it seemed to be nesting, setting up food stations and travel paths from one side of her chest to the other, starting incursions up the side of her neck. She found it behind her right ear, and knew.

Facebook:
4 months ago, I couldn't even deal with saying “girlfriend”, “wife” is going to take some getting used to.

He carried her over most thresholds now, saying he had the best marriage ever, first night every night.

The spider was somewhere in the back of her scalp. She couldn’t see it any more, which felt better and worse.

Facebook:
I'm about to make a high-speed, 50 mile run in a '67 Barracuda for painkillers for Hollie Stevens, I feel like Hunter S. Thompson in a very sad story.

Eric Cash was at San Francisco General Hospital and 2 other places.

That afternoon, they put on Netflix and she slept on the couch with her head in his lap. The spider looked out from behind her eyes and began to spin. The web stretched from temple to temple, the front of her brain softly dissolving as it grew thicker and thicker. The spider delicately reached out the pair of its front legs, wrapping itself in the web like a kimono. Hollie stirred once, gently, and from inside the cocoon of silken steel came a thousand butterflies, pink, blue and white, tearing ragged edges in the web as they shouldered out in twos and threes, filling first her head and then the room, surrounding them both with a cloud of soft wings against the turquoise walls.

Facebook:
When people say you're a survivor, they may as well just lean in to your ear and whisper, “soon, all your friends will be dead”






Written for the real Eric and Hollie.

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Comments {30}

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SuperCAILEfragilistic

(no subject)

from: caile
date: Jun. 18th, 2012 11:02 pm (UTC)
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Wow, the first two sentences of this story are a real roller coaster ride from creepy to hilarious to devastating.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jun. 22nd, 2012 04:19 am (UTC)
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Thank you! I knew the first line before I knew anything else, and I'm glad it worked for you.

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Ellakite

I'm going to keep this brief and light...

from: ellakite
date: Jun. 19th, 2012 01:22 am (UTC)
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... because I've lost *FAR* too many people to "The Big C":

Your first couple of sentences is a subset of RULE 34: "If it exists, there is porn of it."

Sweet. Poignant. Heart-wrenching.

As always, finely crafted. Thank you for sharing.

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whipchick

Re: I'm going to keep this brief and light...

from: whipchick
date: Jun. 22nd, 2012 04:20 am (UTC)
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Thanks - I sent it to the real Eric, and I hope he likes it. It's hard to see a friend having such a rough time.

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Rowan

(no subject)

from: mzrowan
date: Jun. 19th, 2012 01:45 am (UTC)
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So, so good.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jun. 22nd, 2012 04:20 am (UTC)
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Thank you, that means a lot.

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notodette

(no subject)

from: notodette
date: Jun. 19th, 2012 02:45 pm (UTC)
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Thank you.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jun. 22nd, 2012 04:21 am (UTC)
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You're truly welcome.

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Lose 10 Pounds of Ugly Fat...  Cut Off Your Head.

(no subject)

from: n3m3sis42
date: Jun. 19th, 2012 07:26 pm (UTC)
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I don't have anything intelligent to say here. This broke my heart.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jun. 22nd, 2012 04:21 am (UTC)
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Thank you - that's a beautiful compliment. The real-life story breaks my heart, and as honored and humbled as I am to tell it, I wish it wasn't there to tell.

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Jemima Pauler

(no subject)

from: jem0000000
date: Jun. 20th, 2012 03:26 am (UTC)
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*hugs*

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jun. 22nd, 2012 04:22 am (UTC)
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Thank you :)

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Holly

(no subject)

from: minnesattva
date: Jun. 20th, 2012 10:48 am (UTC)
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Your words go to places I didn't think there were words for.

I'm not as good a writer as you, so I don't have wortds with which to adequately respond.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jun. 22nd, 2012 04:22 am (UTC)
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Thank you - that's a beautiful, beautiful compliment.

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basric

(no subject)

from: basric
date: Jun. 20th, 2012 11:13 pm (UTC)
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It gave me chills. You wrote it perfectly, as if you were she. BRAVO

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jun. 22nd, 2012 04:22 am (UTC)
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Thank you - I wish the story wasn't there to be written :)

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m_malcontent

(no subject)

from: m_malcontent
date: Jun. 21st, 2012 04:06 am (UTC)
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Exceptionally well done.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jun. 22nd, 2012 04:23 am (UTC)
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Thank you very much.

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The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors

(no subject)

from: halfshellvenus
date: Jun. 21st, 2012 08:24 am (UTC)
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This is so surprising. It reads as if the spider could be her cancer or a sign of mental instability, but given that it spawns and spreads, and that it changes Hollie's perception of what's happening and what it means and what people are thinking... it's both cancer and the fear cancer creates.

Maybe that’s why hospital colors were boring and ugly, you wouldn’t have to feel bad about not being excited by something beautiful.
Such an interesting thought.

So sad. Cancer breaks not only its victims but their loved ones, especially if the victim doesn't survive. All that pain, sorrow, and anguish makes it seem as if there should be a guarantee of a good outcome.

And if not, let there be peace instead.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jun. 22nd, 2012 04:24 am (UTC)
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Ooooh, I really like your interpretation.

Yeah, I'm honored and humbled to be able to write this story, but I wish it wasn't there to be written.

I always appreciate how perceptive your comments are.

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alycewilson

(no subject)

from: alycewilson
date: Jun. 21st, 2012 07:33 pm (UTC)
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This is so heartbreaking, that to discover it was real made me tear up. You truly have a gift.

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alycewilson

(no subject)

from: alycewilson
date: Jun. 21st, 2012 07:34 pm (UTC)
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FYI, I was going to mention magical realism, then saw your tags. :)

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(Deleted comment)

whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jun. 22nd, 2012 04:25 am (UTC)
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Thank you - I'm so touched that you liked it.

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beautiful thank you

from: anonymous
date: Aug. 15th, 2012 09:35 pm (UTC)
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thank you for making the C a spider so we could hate it!

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thank you

from: anonymous
date: Aug. 15th, 2012 09:39 pm (UTC)
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this is eric, I don't have a livejournal acct. Thank you Allison. Super triggering, and reading this felt like getting hit in the sternum with a mack truck half in the 3rd dimension and half-out, but it's very beautiful. Thank you so much

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Simple "Thank you".

from: anonymous
date: Aug. 15th, 2012 10:55 pm (UTC)
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As a personal friend of Hollie's this was truly beautiful. She would have been honored by your artful words, I am sure. Eric is lucky to have a friend like you to write about his exceptional wife and his devoted path he took with her.

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