Orca Girl

Orca Girl

wears a killer whale’s tooth like a toe tag and populates every available margin with sketches of the sea Oreos.

Clara and I don’t sit near her because her acrylics alone look “responsible for an obituary” (Clara’s assessment) and we don’t want to “become a hashtag” (ibid). So instead, we watch Orca Girl from two rows over, her uncovered stomach tight like a drum. In one hand, she fingers a bullet of cherry lipstick, or maybe, something else.

When anyone asks Orca Girl a question, she responds only in orca facts. On the symbolism of Miss Maudie’s Azaleas last month, she explained that orcas go underwater cow tipping to paralyze and eat great whites. Great whites! By now, most of our teachers have stopped asking, removed her popsicle stick from the jar completely. Only Mr. Morris presses on and with increasingly deranged optimism. Today, she tells him that orcas can punt seals up to eighty feet in the air. It’s unclear if they want to loosen the skin or just Jack the Ripper them, she continues. She turns and flashes us a smile, seaming her front teeth with lipstick, rabid.

Mr. Morris digs his hands into his pockets and dismisses Orca Girl with the sad shake of his head. Orca Girl leans back and closes her eyes and Clara says she must be sleeping. But I can see them jittering underlid, ejecting us one by one into the sky, making chalk outlines in the clouds.

Nicole Tsuno is chronically ill and clearly spends too much time on animal fact TikTok. Her work appears or is forthcoming in The Augment Review, Bed Zine, Bending Genres, Cotton Xenomorph, No Contact, The Offing, Passages North, perhappened, and Wigleaf.

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