Pseudopod 189: Gretel

By Camille Alexa

Read by Claudia Smith

He was tall and quiet, and thinner even than Gretel. Cigarette burn scars covered one cheek, and he was blind in his left eye from an especially bad night with his father. Gretel thought he was beautiful.

You’re beautiful, he told her later that night, after her stepmother had driven away and Brykerwoods orderlies had taken Gretel’s leather jacket and the contents of her pockets… but not the lipstick tube they hadn’t found in her bra. After she’d found him, like an uncharted territory, or an undiscovered planet, sitting on the dirty white linoleum next to a vacant chair in an empty TV room without a television. After she’d had handed him one hit of acid and placed the other under her tongue. You’re beautiful.

I’m not, she said. My front teeth jut like fallen tombstones. My nose is the size of a bus and my hair is like strips of rotting bacon and my eyes are small and brown as rabbit turds. You must be tripping.

And he said, I am, but that’s not why I like you.