Sometime in the night back in the Spill City trailer, Norma had woken up and eaten the last churro but in the morning had no memory of doing this, or of anything else. She tried to shrug the burn out of her shoulders, her night with Bunny slowly coming back to her. Calling Mommy down at the beach. Half-falling over some kid outside the pay phone.
After another blackout she came to with blood under her nails that she could not explain. Norma howled in frustration. Rain chipped at the roof. Was it morning? Which morning? She lay there in a sweat, a free-floating panic squeezing the breath from her chest. A constant headache scratched at her temples. She felt the VIPr, the encoded dentata, leaking into her brain. Maybe Mommy was right. Maybe on Earth you think with your hole.
It had been so long since she’d seen the Guy from the train but increasingly she felt him there, saw him in her dreams, woke up scissoring her legs together. The tide was out. She could hear it in the muffled swish of the surf and the desperate call of the birds stuck in the slick like bugs on fly paper. She groped in the dark for her water bottle, tried to drink it lying down and wound up squirting it out her nose. She sat up flailing and feeling foolish. Laughed at herself before anyone else could, even if there were someone else here with her, which there never was. She wiped her face with her sleeping bag and switched on the light, wrapped the sleeping bag around her and padded out of the bedroom. She felt starving but at least the sugar-fried smell of the churros was gone, thank Elvis for small mercies, which is what Gene used to say, and remembering him, she thought again of ditching the mission and heading back up to LA but with what? What, invoking Mommy’s leer in the bathroom mirror, would you tell him? About your appetites? Yes, creature, tell him the one about the hunger. Go back to Gene, the big lug with the lovable laugh—Mommy’s alliterative frenzy frying the line—and tell him about the hungry monster inside you. The daughter pregnant with her Mommy. She pulled the cabinet mirror open, slammed it shut again. She pointed an imaginary pistol at the mirror.
Norma went out of the trailer naked in her sleeping bag and stood shivering in the clearing, looking out to sea. The outlines of the dawning world had spread like a bruise and beyond the rail, the red tide rolled in unending. Norma sniffed her fingers and began to cry.