When the class was over, on December 27, she brought the scroll in its ribbon home and placed it on a shelf. She made herself a cup of peppermint tea. She was already a decent person, she felt, and this would only make her a little nicer. A little better. She dipped the tea bag gently in the hot water.
She did not say anything aloud, but something else hummed beneath the words. By the time she finished rinsing the mug, the plan was set for New Year’s Eve.
She didn’t wash her hair for days and was able to rat it into a nest. She soured her mouth with the darkest of lipsticks. She put herself on the road with a thumb on the night of the most drunken driving, wearing fishnet stockings beneath a black wrap made from the thickest, harshest cotton, the kind used for army duffel bags.
What she knew by the way her body awoke when she prepared and put on her clothes for the night was that ugliness seemed to equal sex in her mind. That too much prettiness was to be looked at, not touched, and ugliness was to be mauled, in a good way. Her skin rubbed against the roughness of the cotton. The night was windy, and air blew against her thumb. Her nails were bitten far past the dome. Starting tomorrow, they would grow.
That she got into a car with a stranger was risky. One might even call it dumb. But she wanted to get across town, as she’d had several shots of whiskey at her apartment, wishing her breath to be sharp. Plus, she was curious about who was out there on the streets, what was happening in the world. The man who picked her up on the side of the road was a kindly, worried father in a tan Datsun, his head framed by a ring of hair. He looked a bit frightened of her, his shoulders hunched in.
“Young lady,” he said. “Miss. It is not smart to hitchhike ever, and in a city, and on New Year’s Eve!”
He had mild eyes behind the frames of old-style glasses, and he attempted to fix them upon her.
“But it’s my final night of the slovenly,” she told him. She had so much eye makeup on he could hardly even focus on the brown of her iris, looking as it was almost reddish against the thickness of the black kohl streaks.