Effie hangs out at the cigarette shop without her tongue. She stands by the cartons of Marlboros and screeches at customers about how people who don't smoke can lose their tongues. She says sometimes all it takes is a mean daddy with nicotine stained fingers, a pair of pruning sheers and a hungry dog. Or she's giving out a recipe for honey beer. It's hard to tell.
A man with a Great Dane comes in. The dog is almost Effie size. Dogs are nasty, Effie wails three times. It sounds like og r assy. Customers look at lighters and Nico-buster candles and pretend she isn't there.
The third person in line is me. My nicotine level is dangerously low. Effie is little but sounds big. The dane is blocking the door.
My mind decides it is time for travel. Three moments go by in rapid succession.
I am eighteen with my first broken nose. My hands hold my face. I look at my lover through watery eyes.
I am twenty-four and single with two kids. The man who never asked me to marry him tells me someone is pregnant and it isn't me.
I am thirty-six and my son calls me a fucking cunt. I smack his screaming mouth.
Effie touches my shoulder and my mind comes back. My feet say run. The dane says no.
Awww, Effie says, oken irl, roken irl, oken rl. She pets me and I am, three times over, a broken girl.
Fuck you, Effie, I say because my three times three will never equal her daddy, tongue and dog. Someone should feel sorry for wrongs done to Effie. I volunteer.
The man behind the counter knows me as a repeat offender. How many, he asks. I say three and hold up two fingers. I turn to Effie and make a scissor motion. She wimpers. So does the dane.
julie payne ©2003