we can help you

said the woman with no teeth and the man with no shirt. both had facial hair that was nicotine yellow and loose teeth. their smiles looked like possession by a throat dwelling ghost, dismantling the jaw to settle in. they lived next door in a red warehouse. the loose walls of which rattled thunderously, like a cage, at any breeze beyond that of feeling. the butt of the building faced them, and luckily, there were no windows and so the only way the neighbors could see them was to come right up and wade through. which, unfortunately, they did quite often, but the child felt it was much less often than it would be otherwise. we can help you move in and fix your plumbing. we can help you get the electricity working proper. we can help you they said every day as a girlchild sunbathed in an abandoned satellite dish. i’m completely naked,she said, implying they shouldn’t be hereohthey said and proceeded to decloak. 

rubbing his arm in a way she hoped could be read as “accepting” but being thoroughly repulsed by the hairs her hand plowed through to convey the message, she said “I like it here” and he confessed it was much cheaper to buy land that was underwater. it’s ok. the neighbors can help us I think. and we can plant rice or willow or some thirsty plant to take over and it will be beautiful!as she said this she laid back in the grotto beneath the satellite, floating effortlessly, trying to show the man she’d been promised to that she sure didn’t mind and wasn’t disgusted by this tepid and still water, trying desperately not to bob too much while keeping her ears and mouth above the water, looking more terrified than casual. 

the first two floors of the cabin were uninhabitable, being rotten and dangerous. so they lived on the roof, with a makeshift second roof overhead. it was a small landing, a 24” round table and a chair, a collection of mugs, a television (it didn’t work), a rug for sleeping, and a lantern. it was small, and it was possible the floor (or, the roof) (or the roof) would give in at any moment. the girlchild sat all day in the chair or curled up in the satellite dish. she was afraid of the neighbors and didn’t understand their intentions. not only were they suspiciously eager to do favors for the new couple, but they seemed to multiply. she wasn’t sure who lived in the warehouse and who was only visiting, but many of them started to slowly colonize the area surrounding the cabin in the guise of surveying the electric layout or digging a hole to find the plumbing or what not and so forth. she did what she could to shoo them, but they didn’t seem to understand what she said unless it could be broken up and rearranged into some sort of invitation to come back again tomorrow. 

most of the time things were good, though. she loved her home, especially her cups she’d collected. her parents would take her to competitions when she was even younger, subsidized etiquette quizzes for the youth, and the prizes (which she often won, being filled to the brim with grace) were usually stars of television branded on melamine cups. she had never watched a single moment of television, and the mystery surrounding the storytellers and damsels and puppets was so fulfilling, even now, at the age of ten, to the sunbathing future wife in septic paradise.