Hannah Spelled Backwards is Still Hannah by Gabrielle McAree
Hannah doesn’t like tomatoes, but she smothers her chocolate cake in sugar-free ketchup. She has a paralytic fear of flying but cliff dives from 100 ft. This is how I explain her to my friends when we’re black-out drunk. She’s a proper enigma, I say, tripping over my two left feet—though I wouldn’t recognize an improper one if it punched me in the face.
My current state of mind is filtered by all things Hannah. Hannah in the cafeteria. Hannah jumping off high rocks. Hannah falling asleep in Geometry. Hannah picking her nose in the quad. Hannah eating chocolate with ketchup.
Hannah’s mom unclogs toilets for a living. Her dad does something with gerrymandering, I don’t know what. She wears the same pair of ugly shoes every day, but her house could swallow my house as an appetizer. Hannah pulls hair and drinks vodka straight. She squeezes rabbits until their eyes explode and kisses roadkill on the mouth. With tongue. No one’s willing to vouch for any of this, but it’s a popular topic of discussion amongst the junior class. Some people think she’s a Russian spy. Others swear she’s an alien without a social security number—but that’s just because she wasn’t born in Texas like the rest of us. We’re recycled clones of our parents. Born and bred, dirt-road Texas.
Hannah’s dieting to fit into her red swimsuit, so we get frozen yogurt instead of ice cream. I hate frozen yogurt, but I tell her I love it. She wears her thick, ugly shoes and a long sleeve shirt with holes in the elbows. I shiver underneath the air-conditioner, trying to conjure up interesting things about myself. I masturbate a couple times a day. Maybe more if I’m angry or hungry, which is, like, all the time. I collect shark teeth from dead sharks. I play the lottery blind and own a clean pair of cowboy boots. I’m cognizant that this makes me a clone of every guy in a 75-mile radius. My dad owns a tractor. I grew up with chickens. I’m afraid of the dark, and I have reoccurring dreams that I’m a cowboy. Hannah is impressed by exactly none of this. She tells me to stop talking.
Hannah wants to be a professional ninja, and she hates bats. These are the only things she’s willing to divulge. She also sighs a lot and throws her hair over her shoulder in 15 second intervals, which is actually very distracting when you’re trying to vet a person.
When it’s time to pay, she crosses her arms over her chest and sighs like pretty girls do, so I fish eight, crumbled ones out of my pocket and slap them on the counter. The cashier has a mountain range of acne dominating the left side of his face. He smiles at Hannah, concealing his little boner with his free hand, so I don’t tip because he’s a little pervert.
Hannah doesn’t thank me for her liquid cottage cheese. She just shovels it into her mouth without breathing, as if someone’s going to steal it from her. I assume she has a bunch of needy siblings, so nothing is really hers, but I swear she’s an only child. When she’s finished, she says, “So, Harrison, did you know shrimps’ hearts are in their heads?”
I shake my head. “No. I’m more of a carnivore.”
I imagine how it would feel like to leave a trail of bite marks on Hannah’s skin, to drink myself full of her pretty girl blood. To cut off her big toe and keep it in my pocket as a souvenir. To collect her perfect teeth and organize them underneath my pillow. I wonder if Hannah’s insides taste like frozen yogurt. It’s much hotter outside than inside. Inside, the air-conditioner was a buffer. Now, my scalp is melting.
“Oh,” Hannah says, morphing into the ghost of my dead mother and her dead mother and all the dead women I’ve ever known who share the same face when they say “oh” as a means to express disappointment.
Hannah tells me she only agreed to go out with me because my name starts with an “H.” She likes alliteration. Something about the way it rolls off her tongue, like a hard glottal stop. I don’t know, I stop paying attention. I dump my yogurt on the street and watch it bleed out into the nearest sewer. I realize the hate I have for humanity, for frozen yogurt, for pretty girls named Hannah.
Hannah is a palindrome. I tell my friends this as I down another beer and another and another. I crush the cans against my head until my migraine grows legs. I hypothesize the easiest way to kill her, a person who is a person who is also a palindrome. I think of her military shoes, heavy and hard enough to snap her windpipe. I think of her jade eyes reflected in her frozen yogurt. I imagine it will be fun to watch the life leave them. My friends nod in agreement. There’s a Cowboy’s game on, so no one’s really listening.
Gabrielle McAree is from Fishers, IN. She studied Theatre and Writing at Long Island University Post. Her work is forthcoming at X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, Two Fingers Lit, and Unstamatic. She's on Twitter @gmcaree_