The cracks in her lipstick remind you of your grandmother’s bedroom wall that bubbled under the pressure of layers of paint. You took a bottle of rubber cement to those walls once. Your grandmother found you stuck by your fingers. She laughed. You laughed, too. You laughed until you left your skin on the wall, another layer to remember. She used a butter knife. Now you only spoon strawberry jelly on your biscuits.
This girl laughs like strawberry jelly sometimes. You aren’t sure what this means, so you tell her, “You laugh like strawberry jelly sometimes.”
“Do you like strawberry jelly?” she asks you.
“Yes,” you say.
“Thank you,” she replies, so you think that it must be a lovely thing, to say that she laughs like strawberry jelly.
“Your sentences are strange,” she says.
“I’m sorry,” you reply.
“I know,” she smiles, “but you shouldn’t be. They make me laugh.”
“Laughter is good?” you ask her.
“Do you like to laugh?” she asks in return.
“Sometimes,” you say, and think of the butter knife.
She asks you if you regret anything. You turn to her and wish she had asked a different question. So you wrap your arms around her and whisper that you once regretted something, but you don’t anymore.
Then you think about asking her if she regrets anything, so you turn to her and say, “Do you regret anything?”
And she smiles and says, “I regret killing my father,” and you laugh.
You guess you shouldn’t laugh, but you can’t stop.
“How did you kill him?”
She stops laughing and falls down a flight of stairs. You meet her at the bottom, her face missing some key pieces. Freckles. Eyelashes. Nose. Lips.
You search the house and finally find them gift-wrapped in the basement next to the furnace. You call out to her, “I found them!” and the lips in your hands respond, “Oh good. I was starting to worry.”