art by Seth Alan Bareiss
by Amanda C. Davis
Bethany Chow is shimmering in the cafeteria like the disco ball they borrow from the seventies for every stupid school dance. Her hair is shifting through a dozen shades of black and brown, a dozen patterns of highlights and lowlights, and her eyes are changing shape so fast she seems to be constantly winking. She's only changing height slightly these days, so people must have figured out how tall she is. She's really settling into her shimmer. If I guess right, she'll be shimmering the rest of her life. She'll never be without admirers, and lots of them, to think about her and remember her and shape her.
One of her adoring lunch buddies glances over her shoulder at me, and I feel my thighs expand. The seams of my jeans dig into my skin. I have to get out of here. I leave my lunch tray where it is, grab my backpack by the straps, and bolt.
Unfortunately, I pass a table full of the track team on my way out of the cafeteria. That slows me down.
In the hallway my legs snap back to normal, but I feel a few pimples come and go as I pass a boy with one amazing case of acne. He must not have any friends at all. You can usually count on people not to remember the particulars of your zit pattern--unless it's all they know about you, and then look out. Their memories will turn you into a gargoyle.
The lockers are plastered with the usual self-propaganda: self-portraits and headshots, lovingly photoshopped into each kid's personal ideal self. I guess they work. I don't use them. I usually pass these as fast as I can, but one of them catches my eye and I pause. I grab it from the wall. I recognize the boy in the photograph, but he's not familiar. I mean I know who it is. But it's not him.
It's Benjie. He shrinks under my gaze--literally growing shorter--but just an inch or so. The poster lists his height as six-foot-four. It's already working.
I give his poster a little shake. "I can't believe you drank the Kool-Aid."
He looks pained. "I knew you'd hate it."
"I don't hate it," I say. "I mean, look at it, you made yourself look like LeBron. It's good work."
"But you hate that I did it."