Bonnie Ruberg is a young writer from the Philadelphia area whose fiction has appeared in such venues as Hobart Pulp, Word Riot, Uber.nu and Juked. She is also the editor-in-chief of a literary magazine called Verse Noire, based out of Annandale-on-Hudson, New York.
I bash words against the wall and grind grammar between molars, but Matilda Maye, the Queen of Lint, is dancing on my dryer. In past sweet-moments she’s provided the semblance of a story: plot-line clear, theme concise, story-arch of gold. Perhaps she’s been successful. Series books and late-night shows and lollipops with floats (broad city blocks) and place-her-picture-here. The little girl, gargantuan. Delirious. An only fruit of flickering wrist; move the pencil, words will come. You are medium, conduit, mush. Your body like the air-duct. A sewage pipe. A pane of storefront showcase, shut up and think most clear. This mantra for the artist, the schizophrenic and the fool. Matilda Maye knows not the nature of defeat. Something always waits for her, inside the lint-trap door. A ghastly land of washed-aways forms seas from want-no-mores, a gray but speckled tide like the edges of my clothing, the frizzing of my hair. I must provide this peace for her; she is my child born dead as words, but full of a similar illusion, lively, a will to dance on dryers. I, however, have no such drive, and can often be found with a book. More beautiful, more radiant than any imaginable truthfull-grown, palm-sized, the tiny finger of love, of blame, tomorrow.
She will not grow to rupture; I have not written it so. Like every super-hero-girl, Matilda has her cape, fashioned, you might think, from lint, but really just from nylon. She does not sense her own importance, the media, nose-to-glass. Color-blind. Blessed with straight-pointing vision, a chocolate hawk, hollow yet delicious. I have tried to write her siblings, equipt with fetishes too. Laundry buddies all. Never again, never againas barren as the sea. The words will not answer to the magic in my fingers. So *zoooooom* she goes, an only child, a selfish lass made queen. But her smileteeth softer than finest applesauce and a tongue fluffed more than heaven. She does not ask. I give the world. Tsk, tsk, turn head; life like in the movies. Spoiled on spin-cycle jeans and the corduroys she loves. A deep-sea diver, breathing heat. I breathe an awkward silence. The Queen of Lint is flying. They’re banging doors to see her face, not the puppet (her creator). When I am dead she will keep living. The royalty checks will slide through slots and they will pile up a mountain. But who will feed the dryer, who will wear these clothes? My sweat will give her reason; my discarded life her kingdom. No she would not turn from me, cracked-desert though I am. Together we make writing. Yet those dumb-struck days I search her eyes to see my own reflectionthey come back in gray, like fur. I lose my finger in her socket; she does not scream, but smiles.
Most days she is a fragrant ghost, a whiff of clean detergent. When every shirt I own gleams white I say I’ll save myself, erase her goodmy one completed story. But forever my heart wobbles, uneasy, unwanted, unkind; the motion of green jelly in cookie-cutter squares. On hot summer days I watch her drool, a blood line like that red pair of boxers which never left the load, and I feel for certain, as her yellow/blue costume glimmers in the light that rings *time’s up,* baked cookies from the dryer, there is no turning back; if she could she would lick the decaying skin off my spine. My little girl. My jumbled words. Go forth and play the stranger.