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LAce Posted Monday, January 21st, 2008
Farther Away Than Siberia
J.M. Patrick

I am a tiger rip-roaring, foaming, stalking through the dew-soaked brush of the jungle. My sister is a deer, no, a wild boar! Hairy and yellow-toothed, rough-skinned and awkward, she is trotting past me, farther and farther, past the swing set and into the neighbor’s yard. I could eat her. I could tell my dad she disappeared or maybe she died. He will cry for a while, and then – poof! She’ll be gone.

Amy has wiry hair like a pig’s tail. She eats all the ice cream in the refrigerator before anybody else gets to it. She tells my friends about the time I peed my pants in church and laughs when I start to cry. She thinks she’s so big and tough because she’s the oldest, but she’s only twelve, and besides, I’m a tiger, though I don’t think she knows it yet.

Last night, she ruined my sleepover. I invited all the girls from class, even the really prissy ones like Erica Genovese and Melissa Trapka. I told them they could bring their princess sleeping bags even though I know that princesses are dee-sgusting. They all came over and looked at my room and rolled their eyes at my poster of The Rock. They asked me if I thought he was cute and I said “Yeah, he’s really strong.” And they said “Tanya, stop being like a boy.”

Franni Jowolski was there, and so was Emily Adams. Emily likes bugs and rocks, and we went snake hunting while the other girls painted their fingernails on the front porch. That’s when Amy came home. I saw her coming down the street carrying her stupid doll like it was a real baby. She saw me and she smiled, and I got a sick feeling, like the time someone dared me to eat a worm and I did. I said “There’s my sister Amy. She’s so dumb.” And Emily said, “Yeah, she’s so dumb.”

Amy asked “Where are you going?” and I said, “None of your business.” She came right up to us, right into my face almost and said “I know where you’re going. You’re going to sit in a tree. K-I-S-S-I-N-G.” I told her to shut up. I didn’t invite any boys to my sleepover and she knew it. Emily pulled on my shirt to go. We left Amy there with her hands on her hips. I didn’t turn around to see if she was sticking out her tongue. She probably was.

The neighbor’s yard has rocks around a garden, which is a perfect place for a snake to hide. I told Emily, “They look like little hoses except black.” And she said, “I know what a snake looks like, I’m not retarded.” We didn’t find any snakes, but we found a centipede and three spiders. We tried to catch them, but they were too fast, so we let them get away.

The girly-girls were giggling. “Let’s play spy!” I said, and Emily nodded. We tiptoed around the side yard and hid under the porch. If we pushed our faces up against the ceiling, we could see them – but just a little bit. Just little slices of them; an eye here, a ponytail there.

Amy said, “I like the pink glitter nail polish because it matches everything.” She is showing off and trying to make the other girls think she’s the coolest. She is wearing lipstick. One of the other girls, probably Frannie, asked “How come Tanya doesn’t like nail polish and stuff?” and Amy said “Because she’s a freak.” And then they were quiet for a second until she said, “I think she’s a dyke.”

I didn’t know what this meant, but Emily must have, because she gasped and put her hand on her mouth and looked at me like she expected me to do something. I heard Amy start to laugh. I asked Emily “What’s a dyke? What’s a dyke?” And she said “It’s a girl who likes girls.” And I started to cry a little bit, and then a lot because they were all still laughing.

There were rocks under the porch from the time my father was going to build a wall around the garden like the neighbors, but didn’t. I lined up the small ones. I slid out from underneath. I had a really big one saved for Amy, a big fat white one that was so heavy I had to use two hands. I threw it at her and missed. It hit Erica in the foot and she started to cry. Emily came and threw one at Frannie. It missed her, but she cried anyway. My mother came out and yelled.

After the moms came to pick them up my mother made me sit in my room by myself. I thought of all the reasons I hate Amy. They were: She chews with her mouth open. She’s really mean. She’s fat. She doesn’t care about anybody but herself. She acts like she’s the best. She tells me that when I was born Dad told her he loved her more. She steals the cookies and blames it on me. I read the list over and over. I fell asleep.

Today I woke up this way, with striped fur and big fat paws like a baseball glove. I have fangs that stick out even when my mouth is closed and I have pointy, fuzzy ears and a tail that is so strong it could kill her with one whip. I have to jump up onto two feet like a human to look out the window. Amy is there with her pig tail in the neighbor’s yard. I decide to find her. The stairs are hard with four legs, but I do it without falling. She left the door open, thank God, because I couldn’t turn the knob with these big paws and sharp nails.

That’s when I track her down. She’s my prey. She turns to look at me and she asks me “What are you doing?” and “Aren’t you grounded?” but I don’t answer because I don’t understand snorts. I growl. I growl from the throat. It rumbles and shakes and the fur on the back of my neck stands up. She runs, and I follow her.

She is through the side yard, the garden with the snakes, the sidewalk. She is turning to look back at me, she’s trying to be quiet but she can’t because her hoofs make scratchy noises on the cement and I can hear her. Doesn’t she know she can’t outrun a tiger? Finally she stops to catch her breath, and that’s when I make my move.

I pounce; first my front legs leave the ground, then my back. My paws connect with her leathery hide, nails digging deep, she’s bleeding. I growl again. I wrap my front legs around her neck so I can grip it. I use my claws. I use my teeth.

She is snorting and squealing, and then, softly, like a whisper, like a girl, she is crying.

Comments [post a comment]

Posted by Katrina Denza on Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008 at 7:07 AM
I love this piece! Beautifully written.

Posted by Donia Carey on Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008 at 10:03 PM
I love this piece, too. You have a gift for entering the world of children and bringing in the reader.

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