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FLIPPING OUT
BY TRIA ANDREWS

His pretty daughter had her feet on the table again. Freak-show leggy and reading a book with her mouth hanging open. Brown as his mother-in-law from a summer of curling around the bean-shaped pool. He wanted to break her of the habit so he said, Thatís what Filipino women do. They put their feet on the table and purr. 

One day his pretty daughter spouted whiskers and took to walking on her hands and knees and drinking cream from a china bowl. 

Donít mind her, her father told guests, as his daughter chased a bird up a nearby mango tree. She thinks sheís a genealogist. 

Meow, said his pretty daughter, who crawled beneath the car to wait beside the fan belt. 

Not Your Maid

She, who cleaned houses, helped her daughter dress as a French maid for the costume party. Combed her daughterís hair with the broken teeth of her own mouth. Fastened the dress by piercing the hook through her own clouded eye. Slit her wrists for their red, red blood and painted her daughterís thin lips. 

But still I will be cold, said the daughter. 

Would you like to wear me, daughter? I will keep you warm. You can wrap me around you like a shawl. 

Yes, Mother. That should do just fine.

Mother, what are you doing? Put me down.

The evening of the costume party, mother and daughter wore each other out.

Tea Party

Their mothers warned them not to swim for half an hour after theyíd eaten lunch.

What about dinner? asked the girls. What about breakfast?

The very same, their mothers replied.

They were having a tea party at the bottom of the swimming pool. 

I think this tea is poisoned, gurgled one of the girls.

Care for one of my iced cakes, bubbled the other. Itís the only antidote.

Donít mind if I do.

The mothers, who themselves had just lunched, stood over the pool and watched their daughters drown in their own reflections.

Loose Teeth

At nineteen, the obedient daughter still had a mouth full of baby teeth so her father tied a bit of cinnamon string around each one. For hours, she stood dutifully in red pumps, her manicured hands folded, her mouth an O, while her father jerked on the strings like a puppeteer. 

Still her teeth remained rooted in her bleeding gums.

He hung her piñata-style from the ceiling of his bedroom, slammed the door repeatedly, even tied her to the back of his car and dragged her down the street like a honeymooner.

Still her teeth didnít budge.

I give up, said the father. Then, because he pitied her, he kissed his daughter gently on the forehead.

Teeth fell from her mouth like the beads of a pearl necklace.

Ah, said the father. What have I done to deserve such a loose daughter?

[Forever after at http://eyeshot.net/tria.html]

 

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