The Last Young Person Alive Writes A Memoir
by Charlie Anders
This is my coming of age story. They told me to write it down so everyone would know how I was feeling. I don’t know how I’m feeling, but as soon as I know anything, I share it with them.
Mr. Sanderson told me to write with an unspoken sadness that conceals an ache of wonder. Or something like that. Mostly, I feel tired. They never let me stop.
This morning, they woke me up at seven so I could rebel against authority for an hour. Then fifteen minutes for breakfast, before I hustled into the studio to lay down vocal tracks for my new song, “I’m Innocent (Touch Me).” That took like 90 minutes, because I didn’t breathe the right way. Like panting, but only almost. Then Mr. Ogawa wanted me to spend half an hour being an angry poet, in black spandex, and after that I spent two hours modeling the latest fashions while Belinda Stein asked me what the young people want. Since I’m the only young person, I said I wanted a donut. I’m not allowed to have donuts, because my figure.
Okay, so Mr. Sanderson just looked over my shoulder and said I wasn’t emoting enough. He wants me to convey a whole world inside me, by the stuff I leave out. Sort of like the hole in the donut I’m not allowed to have. Donut donut donut donut donut. I want a damn donut!
Mr. Sanderson says if I can be a haunting memoirist for the next 45 minutes I get half a donut. Or maybe a cruller.
So here’s what I remember. The other kids, back when there were others, took me pumpkin carving. The sky misted, like it could see all of me in that moment and it wanted to share any brightness it could spare. It was Jenny Wrigley, Mamie Davis, and me. We called Jenny Spearmint because of her last name.
Out on the road, where our housing development met the edge of the corn field, we found a cat. A big tire tread had smushed its head, but its tail still stuck up. We looked down at it until the mist made our hair feel sweaty. Mamie said it was a black cat, even though it was part white, and we were going to have bad luck.
Spearmint and Mamie made fun of me because of my orthopedic shoes. They kept trying to leave me behind, even though I couldn’t find my way home. Their parents had told them to bring me along because my mom needed some time alone after she overdosed on black barbies.
I kept up with Spearmint and Davis, even though my orthopedic shoes bit. And we got to the pumpkin patch, and found the perfect round bulb to carve on. The ground smelled like ass. I mean, it smelled like the feeling when you know you’re going to lose something soon, but you don’t know what yet. It reminded me of my mom’s adult diaper, and the coffee dripping from the coffee maker onto the hissing metal circle where the pot was supposed to be, and nobody would turn it off. Oh, whatever. Actually, it smelled like ass.
Spearmint pushed my face inside the pumpkin, so the wormy stuff got up my nose and in my hair. I screamed and wriggled around, but she wouldn’t let go. And Mamie laughed and called me Frankenshoes. I felt like my world would be blind and slimy forever. I couldn’t see past this moment.
And then we heard a man, breathing loud and low. It sounded like the wind at first, but then it got a hoarse edge to it. Spearmint let go of my neck and I pulled out of the pumpkin. We were all looking around for the source of the raggedy noise.
There was a naked man there, with us, in the pumpkin patch. And it was Mr. Sanderson! And he had his thumb up his butt! Right there, in the pumpkin patch! And he said, I like pumpkins better than people! Ha ha ha ha ha just kidding.
Jeez, I don’t even care if I get a donut, this is so boring.
And it doesn’t stop. Once I’m done writing my memoir, I have to go be on a reality TV show where I’m stuck in a house for like three hours with the guy who played Xander on Buffy and the girl who played Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
That’s going to be a laugh. And then, I’m supposed to denounce the war for fifteen minutes, and maybe I get some dinner. And then I’m supposed to experiment with drugs for an hour, and then rollerskate. Tearful outburst, and then maybe bedtime. See here, on my schedule, it says “tearful outburst, 35 minutes.” And tomorrow, I’m supposed to act in a “tastefully controversial” movie about my sexual awakening.
But hey, whatever. At least I’m not dead like Maisie. And Spearmint, who shared with me an understanding we could never speak of, a knowledge of the darkness and the secret warmth deep under the frozen dirt.
Now can I have my fucking half donut please?
About the Author
Charlie Anders coedited the anthology She's Such A Geek: Women Write About Science, Technology & Other Nerdy Stuff, which has its own blog. She also wrote Choir Boy, a novel. Her stories have appeared at StrangeHorizons,
Space & Time, ZYZZYVA, GUD and the anthology Paraspheres: New Wave Fabulist Fiction.
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