An odd word, she said. Iguana iguana. Some sort of lizard. Lizards shed their skins. Do they do that in the house? Aren’t they afraid their dads will come in and say, hey, don’t be leaving your skin all over the house, I don’t wanna trip over no skin, get those scales and shit off my favorite chair.
If you would just leave me alone please, he said. I’m trying to get this done. He took off his spectacles and peered closer to the screen.
Spectacles, she said. Another scrumptious word. Spectacles. Don’t make a spectacle of yourself. And when are you going in to the eye doctor? I made an appointment for you and everything but you cancelled. Are you scared of the eyedrops? ‘Cause I can understand that.
This thing’s due tonight, he said.
Her girlfriends ganged up and dragged her to the mall, which was having a grand re-opening or something. A greeter welcomed them at the top of the elevator like they were something, not almost-high school girls. Welcome to Westerfield Mall’s brand new wing. Her friends giggled. She was working hard at not being a spectacle. Feeling the stinging drops in her eyes. Welcome, welcome. Concentrate on the words. She whispered it, welcome, the word slid in two bumps over her tongue, slit her mouth open and then closed it again.
I have to get back, she said. He just sits there without me.
Just a little longer, they pleaded. Those sideways locking eyes. Mimi asked where the bathroom room was, but the greeter didn’t know anything. Trish held up a $37.99 feather-necklined top and the others made grossed-out faces. Gisella took off her boots, walked on shininess in her bare sweaty toes.
Outside, in the forty-second day of the infinite number of future days in which her mother would not appear, the sun shone. An oblong cut in the ceiling far above them revealed a piece of unnaturally blue sky. Oblong, she thought. A really odd word. ob. long. On the floor a corresponding rectangle of sunshine glittered. The sharp bits of light stung her eyes. It’s best, he’d said. I can’t help you. If I were an iguana I’d be sitting myself on a rock somewhere, thinking of nothing, she said loudly in the echoing mall.
When she got home she slammed the front door. Her father took off his glasses and looked up, a good sign. She heard her mother’s voice say this in her head. Good sign. Scrumptious. His eyes were bigger and watery, swimming in a blue pool full of chlorine, or an oblong of sky. Re-opening.
I finished it, he said. I hit send.
I’m not going to boarding school.
He stared at her, a dull steady gaze.
She picked her stuff and his stuff and their stuff off the floor, cleared off his favorite chair. She said, sit here I’ll make dinner.
Why you talking about lizards, her friends had asked. They’re for handbags. That’s crocodile. You can’t buy that anymore, it’s endangered. Look at that one in the window. My purse is so last year. Iguana, she had thought. Not lizard. Sunning itself, the sky wide and full above it, uncropped. Doing nothing but what needs to be done. When it has to, shedding its skin.