Mimi Make Your Dreams COme True
She’s twining her hair like a tourniquet around her finger when I meet her outside the train station.
"So you really can do anything?” I ask after introductions. She has a firm handshake: up, down, charm, strange.
She cocks her eyebrow, mock offended. “Says so in the ad, doesn’t it?”
The ad on my phone, loud and confetti, confection colored. Mimi make your dreams come true.
“Do you know how to scream?” Doubt chips soft crevices into my voice. No matter, I’ve already paid in advance.
“I dare say I excel in it.” Mimi gives me a once-over, followed by a sage nod. “It’s important for a girl to know how to scream. You’ll see.”
She and I walk down the street together. I watch our shadows, stretched tall and dressed all in black. A preacher balances on a fruit crate at the intersection, shouting about all the kinds of people who bring all kinds of trouble to his world. I halt before him, my body trembling, my throat constricting like a snake’s inner muscles crushing an egg. No words can come out of my mouth when he has all the words.
Mimi touches my shoulder and gently pushes me back. She gets in the preacher’s face and releases a bone-chilling scream. While he’s still trying to recover on a nearby stoop, she kicks his wooden crate with her cowboy boot until she takes it apart.
“Where to next?” Mimi asks, and I can finally breathe enough to give directions.
I walk into my inaugural university party with Mimi at my side. She and I dance, sometimes separately, sometimes together. She moves her limbs like a fern unfurling. I lean against a wall and watch her, taking notes. I don’t notice the guy talking to me at first. His barley breath fans over me. He’s saying something that ends with a question mark, and I say no, thank you, but the music is too loud and my voice too small as it tends to be, because he doesn’t hear, or doesn’t listen. My panicking brain can’t tell the difference, currently, but there must be one.
The guy’s hand lands on my waist. I blink, and Mimi is next to me, having crossed the sea of dancing people like a messiah/prophet/oceanic dragon. NO she screams in the guy’s direction, spittle flying, menace. He scurries away and she cackles as we duck into the nearest bathroom. She fixes her lipstick before the mirror while I pee. Knocks on the glass to illustrate how to tell two-way mirrors from regular ones. Waits for me with bottomless patience as I tuck my shirt back in, as I pluck the down feathers that chock my voice to get to the solid rachis underneath.
“Ready to get out of here?” Mimi asks, and I nod.
Taxicab, getaway car. Back home, my parents are asleep. We had a fight earlier today about me being too much or not enough. I forgot I’m an adult like they are, so I let them talk while I didn’t. Mimi must see something in my posture as we navigate the dim kitchen because she asks, “Should I go up to their bedroom and scream them out of their nice, suburban dreams?”
I consider it, but no. I just want to go to sleep. I let Mimi have my bed and make a nest for myself out of blankets on the floor. Mimi plays on her phone a bit, checking her ads, probably. When she turns to face me in the dark, however, I can feel the weight of her undivided attention settling over me.
“You’re okay,” she tells me. “You’ll figure things out.”
We sleep, and I have no dreams, which is a dream unto itself.
“How’s your throat?” I ask over tea with honey and lemon the next morning. The 24 hours I paid for are almost up. I’ll walk her back to the train station after breakfast, and then we’ll part ways.
“Fine. My lungs, too. I could scream for hours until I am heard. Had some practice when I was your age.”
Can you teach me? I almost ask, but my tongue feels heavy again, my voice programmed like a claw machine to only rarely grip the words I want to say and not let go. At least I know now. I saw that it can be done. Perhaps I’ll answer Mimi’s ad again. And one day, perhaps soon, I’ll be able to scream like her. And then all the clamoring voices, within and without, will finally be hushed as a lullaby.
A kaleidoscope fractures, then mends itself.
Avra Margariti (she/they) is a queer Social Work undergrad from Greece. She enjoys storytelling in all its forms and writes about diverse identities and experiences. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in SmokeLong Quarterly, The Forge Literary, Baltimore Review, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, and other venues. Avra won the 2019 Bacopa Literary Review prize for fiction. You can find her on twitter @avramargariti.