Kylie fingers Martina under the bleachers after school. Martina is warm, and moist, and slippery, and when she cums against Kylie’s palm, she moans so loudly that Kylie thinks everyone on campus must have heard. She hopes this is true.
“I’m so proud of myself,” she says, and Martina laughs her scratchy laugh.
Martina doesn’t come to school the next day, doesn’t answer Kylie’s texts. The day after that, she’s found floating down a river in pieces.
Several of their classmates attend her funeral. They crowd together in the church, sniffling, and holding each other, and pretending to cry. None of them were friends with Martina. Some had been the very ones who bullied her and Kylie. They stalked them in the halls, pelted them with water balloons and milk cartons, hurled insults such as “dykes” and “lesbos.”
Kylie hates them all.
She sits near the back, sandwiched between her parents. Her father keeps his hand on her shoulder, though the effect is more suffocating than comforting. She feels like she’s breaking, splintering. The casket is closed. She can’t comprehend that her best friend’s body is in there, wants to demand that they open it so that everyone can see it isn’t Martina, it’s a doll, it’s an impostor.
They had been friends since the first grade, back when they were shy little girls who felt comfortable only around each other, and they grew into awkward teenagers together. They’d known each other for so long their identities had become intertwined. Kylie can’t imagine a Martina-less world, nor can she imagine a Martina-less Kylie. Who is she now? What is she supposed to do?
Martina’s mother, Ms. Aguilar, finds her after the service. She’s scowling, and Kylie is reminded of the last time she stayed at Martina’s house, how they hid under the blankets and tried to block out the sounds of her parents fighting.
“This is your fault,” her mother spits. “I wanted her to stop hanging out with you.”
“How is it my fault?” Kylie demands. It’s the fault of whoever killed her, they deserve to rot in Hell, except no one knows who did it. The medical examiner said it didn’t look like the work of a human, nor that of an animal.There were no wounds at all, no blood, it was as if her body unraveled spontaneously, as if she simply couldn’t stay in one piece anymore.
Within a few weeks Ms. Aguilar will be gone, moved to another city.
At night Kylie tries to hold onto everything she can remember about Martina: her voice, the smoothness of her skin, the texture of the scar on her arm, the way her tongue felt between her legs. She sucks on her fingers and pretends she can still taste Martina’s wetness, then rubs the part of her shoulder where Martina had given her a hickey once.
In the morning she finds a tiny, pinprick-sized hole on her shoulder. Her mother doesn’t see any hole, says she must be imagining it, but Kylie knows it’s real. She can’t stop thinking about the hole, can’t stop touching it, rubbing and rubbing until it’s wide enough for her to insert the tip of her finger. When she does the pain is so intense she almost screams, but there’s something satisfying about it.
Eventually a gray fluid starts leaking from the hole.
Eventually, other holes appear.
Kylie comes to school covered in seeping black holes. Everyone stares at her. They’re shocked, disgusted, even enraged that she showed up like this and is forcing them all to see it.
In class, she does nothing but touch her holes. She leaves stains on the floor and on her desk.
The teacher asks her to leave. “You’re distracting the other students,” he says. He looks at her the way you’d look at a bug. She definitely feels less than human as she plods out of the room. Why is she so heavy all of a sudden? She can barely keep herself upright.
During nutrition she’s accosted by a group of girls who say they want to know more about her. They’ve never seen anything like that, they say, meaning her holes. She tells them to fuck off, but they grab her arms, and the next thing she knows they’re shoving their fingers into her, prying her open further. It hurts so bad. She screams and screams and thrashes and suddenly they let her go. Their mouths are wide open, they’re backing away from her.
Kylie doesn’t know what they’re reacting to. She doesn’t care.
She turns around and runs.
She heads to Martina’s house, climbs in through the window. It’s not Martina’s house anymore, she knows, though a part of her still expects that she’ll come if she cries loud enough.
The walls are bare. There is no furniture, no remnants of the people who used to live here. Still she goes to what used to be Martina’s room and collapses.
Time goes by. It could be minutes, it could be hours. She spends it all on her side, lying in a puddle of her own filth. She’s mostly hole now. It’s almost peaceful. She could live like this, she thinks, as a giant hole, no longer a girl.
Right after she has this thought, her hand moves on its own, forming a fist. A few seconds later she’s clawing herself violently, she’s shaking, and crying, and bleeding, and she keeps saying, “Martina,” saying it like a prayer.
There is darkness and silence, a black void. This lasts only an instant.
Once it’s over, she’s back in Martina’s bedroom. She feels different now, stronger but heavier. Slowly she stands and realizes something is attached to her shin.
She reaches down and touches it: there’s hair, and … is that a nose? Are those eyes?
That voice. It can’t be.
Martina is back, and she’s alive, and her head is a part of Kylie now, fused to her leg.
“Kylie,” Martina whispers.
Hearing her say her name brings tears to Kylie’s eyes. “What is it?”
“I feel fantastic.”