"The Girl Who Ate Garbage" by Jessica Reisman & A.M. Dellamonica: An Appreciation by Deborah Biancotti
Mite found the girl just before dawn. She was eating a shopping cart in a dead-end alley.
Mite had been born a sorcerer, carrying within him a bright core of magic as solidly his as an appendix. It was called a fetish, and he had thought it would protect him from anything.
Poor Mite, poor, poor Mite.
Zoli'd wanted wings, a spell that called for the ribcage of a girl . . .
Dear god, a ribcage? But why? That's so awful. Maybe he'll even turn the ribcage itself into wings which, when you think about it (and I'm thinking about it now), would be kinda pretty. 'Magine it, ivory wings with tattered bits of skin flapping brown. Wouldn't hold, though. Like Icarus, Zoli'd fall. Zoli wouldn't be solid, see, in his ill-gotten wings. Unsolid Zoli. See?
Zoli got angrier and angrier, shaking Mite from sleep every morning like a dog. The daily demand came harder and faster. "Eat this, honeybee," Zoli would snarl, shoving something at Mite. Turnips or melons if he was lucky, but sometimes a quart of olives, pickled rattlesnake, or raw tripe. Force-fed until his throat bled, Zoli laughed as Mite vomited diamonds and glow-globes, dragon spores and beauty potions.
Aw, man, all kinds of weirdness, & this whole freakish bulimia is worthy of a great, big Freudian interpretation. If I had one. Which I don't.
A girl, bound and gagged, lay on the hotel's crimson carpet. Scared blue eyes stared up at Mite from under spiky dark hair.
"Eat that, honeybee."
Morbid curiosity, that's what I got. It's awful, but I can't look away & when I reach that last honeybee, there, well, I find I have to pause. Just pause & wait. Eat that, honeybee. I'm waiting. Waiting for the ugly.
Gal screeched, hopping behind Mite, clinging to his shoulders as he pivoted to face the shadows. Her breath came in hot bursts behind his ear, and he could feel her pulse—light and rapid—in the warm patch of contact where her throat stretched over his shoulder to peek. "Ghost," she moaned, as if Mite couldn't see that for himself.
Gal is something else, isn't she? I mean, she's way out there. And she also is, more literally, something else. Not the simple gal her name implies.
By the way, these excerpts are in order, but not contiguous, see, don't get confused. It's only that I'm pulling out bits of the story that should make you want to find the bits in-between. Yeah? I'm doing this, some might say, because I'm lazy, or others, because I don't really know how to do a story appreciation. For a start, I'm probably not meant to use the 'I' so much. But, man, can't you feel Gal's throat on your shoulder? Can't you see her kinda floppy & cat-like & crazy, can't you, honeybee? She is disgusting, but compelling. Don't you want to see what goes on around and inside?
My favourite thing.
"Solace is just a wrist-slash away, man. I'm sure you could find a blade in this slop."
"Pass for now, Jonas." Mite's gaze turned from the dark and hazardous bore of the westward tunnel to the wider pit encompassed by Jonas's gesture.
Pass for now, pass on that, Mite, pass on suggestions from the ghost with the suicide fetish. Pass away, pass it on. If Jonas had found solace in the afterlife, would he really be so keen for you to join? But Mite knows that already, he's not at risk of suicide, though you could argue he's suicidal, even if it is for the Goodly Cause. Self-sacrifice, though noble, doesn't always pay off. Mite might find this path a test of his er, might. Poor little mite.
Zoli let go and Mite doubled over to hands and knees. He spit out broken glass and coughed as a shudder of fire shot through his bowels. Retching, he spit up clots and gouts of blood, shreds of flesh. Another hollowing pain shuddered and echoed through his belly. He hacked up a deep, dark clot, nearly blacking out; the tooth and the marble spit out on ropes of bloody bile.
Oh geez, oh God, oh man, oh ho ho, poor Mite, poor, poor Mite, oh.
Now. Oh. I think you should just see this for yourself.
Link to story.