Hazy Mitchell was small, large enough to have grown out of toddler walking some time ago but too small to leap between the bales of hay stacked behind her house. Call her that, however, and she flared like a lit match. Three weeks ago she busted open Tommy Luthor's lower lip for that very thing. The grass in her front yard needs to be trimmed, but she likes it this way, thick, uneven. It curls up between her fingers green and rich. She'll lay there and the stalks rise up cool on her cheek, flitter in front of her eyes with the breeze. She lays on her back and the sky opens wide as a mouth above her. Her mother and father are in the kitchen and the kitchen window is open. Faintly, Hazy hears the whoosh of the water into the sink. She imagines her mother raising her hands and her hands are white with bubbles. Their voices are muffled. Hazy likes it this way too. The things they talk about don't interest her. She doesn't really know them anymore. They've changed. The world is different too. The wind today is not the wind of yesterday. The strange wind of today blows across her as she floats on the grass looking up into the sky. She's old enough to have the thought that if everything were to end here, it'd be ok. Perhaps Godzilla or some other television monster will rise from the far hill, rise tall with orange eyes and teeth long as the scythe that her father keeps in the barn. Godzilla's roar will flatten the grass around her. His mouth will open wider than the sky, come towards her. It'll be hot as the Sunday oven suddenly opened.
A pot clatters into the sink. Her mother will be standing there now on the far side of the screen, holding her hands in front of her, shuddering with a small cry. She never makes noise when she cries. Theirs is a quiet household. The loudest noise Hazy hears during the evening is the snap of the newspaper as her father reads it. The bubbles pop and pop on her mother's hands. Perhaps her hands will shake a bit, just a little. Hazy knows that everything comes out sometime in some way. There's a quick motion of her mother's right hand, a fierce motion. Suds fly from her fingers, splatter her blouse. The bubbles melt into her chest, grow into a dark stain there. Hazy rolls back onto her stomach, looks into the window at her mother.
She's by herself, of course. No one else in the kitchen. It's Hazy's job to take care of her during the day since the nurse left because she hadn't been paid. Hazy sees her mother's red hair bound up and held by a yellow ribbon. Her hair looks like the finish of a campfire, the wind blowing streaks of ash across the fleeing glow. She's fading into something gray. Hazy doesn't know what. Now her mother's hands are wild in the air, white and flinging bubbles. Hazy rests her chin on her hands in the grass. She imagines she's lying on nails, on worms, on coals that smoulder. Her mother argues with the air.
Hazy has time to build a mud pie before her mother collapses on the floor. She'll fall like God suddenly stole her bones, but that's a spaceship attack away. Hazy will help her mother to bed, clean the suds off her hands. Her mother's eyes will be red, unknowing. Her teeth bared, white, long as scythes. There'll be a heat roiling off of her, a snap in her voice like a twig breaking. She'll stiffen at the end of the episode the way a hose hardens with sudden water. That takes thirty seconds. Instead of a gushing at the end, however, she'll close her eyes and sleep. When she wakes up she'll go to finish the dishes, but Hazy will already have cleaned them.
But for now Hazy stays on the grass, watching from outside. There's a few minutes more of the sky to see. It has a blue message for her and she wants to listen. When she turns over again, she faces a tarantula eight inches from her face. Brown, it perches on the tips of the grass, one leg raised. Both creatures freeze.
Hazy is filled with a sudden fear. The black parts of her inside stomach break off and melt inside her. The tarantula's leg slowly comes back down, a grass stalk closer. A hind leg raises. She hears a car entering the driveway. Gravel crunches under the tires. The motor is a deep rumble, a big motor with a hitch in the noise. Daddy's truck. Daddy shouldn't be home in the afternoon. The big spider moves another stalk forward.
The grass stalks flutter away from her nose and mouth with each breath. Perhaps the spider will crawl onto her face, into her mouth and down her throat. She can imagine it living in her belly, growing, having babies. She'll go to talk to her father and baby spiders will flow out of her mouth. He doesn't like spiders. He'll leave then as the spiders flow out of her and crawl up his legs and bite at the skin inside his pants. Her mother has collapsed onto the kitchen floor now, quiet, a heap of clothes.
She reaches with her finger to touch the spider. It stops moving, goes still before she touches. She holds her finger in the air, an inch from the spider. She wants to touch the hairy leg, but her father is calling her now so she must rise from the grass and go inside. She thinks briefly of her next days and wonders if, in some tomorrow different than today, will she cross that inch and touch the spider?