• Vol. 02
  • Chapter 08
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Rich Girls Don’t Bleed

There’s a moment when all the colours lace into one. I step into the department store, rain on my lashes fusing with the lights. It’s December, and I’m not crossing through to reach the bus station. I’m taking the escalator all the way up, standing behind Michelle and her mother, wearing a wool coat that no longer fits my friend.

‘I’m not sure the quality is there,’ Michelle’s mother says. She strolls around the glass display. I pick up the snow globe she touched, spin it. Snow falls on a woman carrying her shopping. Today, I’m allowed to touch, my hands look clean. Michelle’s mother picks up almost everything.

‘Come on girls, look at this!’ she says.

And I love being girls, for once, one of two. She stands by a display of stuffed animals, so soft. Michelle picks one up, we all do. Together, we hold an animal close. When we squeeze hard a tiger purrs, a lion roars, the pig squeals.

Michelle says, ‘I once had a friend with a laugh just like that. She had to go!’

‘Imagine giving your kid one of these noisy swines,’ her mother says, ‘so loud! You’d be able to tell how many times they need a hug in the night. I should get one for your cousin, I bet your aunt would LOVE that!’

She laughs. Michelle joins her. I laugh as if I understand. There’s no rush to stop. I've never been so far into the store. Everything is shiny, pointless and beautiful, at any minute anyone could buy anything.

‘Will you be coming to ours for dinner later?’ Michelle’s mother asks, over her shoulder, ‘we’re having chicken.’


Rich Girls Don’t Bleed

I am looking at a crystal bird, eyes half shut, allowing the light to fracture into pink strands, feeling hot, feeling a rush on my face.

I raise my fingers to my nose, bleeding. Suddenly, hard. Blood blows bubbles out of my nostrils, and pours. The tissue in my pocket feels like cardboard.

‘Do you have a tissue?’ I ask, nostrils pinched, the blood just coming and coming, Santa red.

‘OMG. Mum, mum, do you have a handkerchief or something?’ Michelle says.

Her mother inspects a candle, sniffs vanilla. I clasp my palms to my face, blood rolling between my fingers. Michelle’s mother gasps, ‘No!’ She rummages in her bag and finds leather gloves, a purse, lipstick and keys.

People are starting to look. They snap pictures with their phones and wander off.

‘I’m alright,’ I say, pinched, breathing in, blood streaming down the back of my throat, ‘don’t worry, I’ve had nosebleeds before.’

I smile, fingers covering my face, hands no more than vessels to collect blood.

‘I’m not worried about you! Look at the carpet! Don’t get it on the carpet. It must cost a fortune!’ Michelle’s mother says.

I look down at the carpet, a criss cross of red and yellow stripes on pale wool, a dot of red where lines overlaps. I picture drops of red falling, ruining the pattern. The air is cool, a draft strokes my face.