“So,” Emma points to my prom queen crown, “you were sure popular today. I knew you’d win, though. I’ve been trying to convince people to vote for you for months.”
Her parents aren’t home. We change into our pajamas. I pass Emma the piercing equipment. “I knew I would, too. It helps being pretty.”
I’ve watched videos of how to do piercings at home. When Emma washes my bottom lip, I try not to speak. “I wish I could relate.” She positions the clamp, cold and painful on my mouth. “Would you ever pierce your tongue?”
I shrug. “I don’t know. My brother pierced his tongue. He couldn’t speak properly for days afterwards.” I wasn’t there. Giovanni told me.
My lips are pretty thin. I’ve always hated them, but I suppose that’s less skin to try and poke through. There’s always lip filters, anyway. My mother won’t let me get them, though I’ve been asking for years. I’m almost eighteen, and then I can do whatever I want. Emma positions the needle. “Really? Do you think it gets in the way when he’s going down on his girlfriend?”
She pierces, and I yelp. “Ow! Also, gross, Emma! I don’t want to think about my brother’s sex life!”
“It was just a question.” She hands me a tissue before removing her latex gloves. “I’m genuinely curious. Like, do you think it affects anything? What if you’re trying to eat a girl out and your tongue piercing keeps rubbing on her clit – like, do you think that would feel good?”
I make a retching noise. “Stop. Talking. That’s disgusting. I can’t believe you would ask me that.”
There’s quite a lot of blood coming out of my lip. Though it’s not very sore anymore, it feels strange to speak. Emma sits beside me, her back against the living room chair. “Okay, geez, take a chill pill. Do you think your mom will be mad about the piercing?”
I don’t worry about my mother anymore. “Probably. Honestly, I don’t care. My mom’s a bitch anyway.”
Emma says nothing. She knows I’m right, but she’s too polite to talk badly about my family. Emma’s too nice, I tell her all the time. If you want to be popular like me, you have to be blunt. You have to have opinions. You need to refuse to take shit from people. Emma’s not like that. I’m working on her.
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