Anna Molly writing insults in her notebook.
Anna Molly chewing with her mouth open.
Anna Molly spitting through her front diastema.
Anna Molly shaking her pill box like a maraca.
Anna Molly smoking with the limb of her finger.
Anna Molly talking tax deductions with her lawyer.
Anna Molly rolling her eyes at her grandmother’s wedding dress.
Anna Molly shouting What’s wrong with you you fucking bitch.
Anna Molly extending her arm to show a 11 Month Strong medallion.
Anna Molly on the floor, with her daisies dress and plastic sandals, with her Malibu hair, Belair tan, Sunset Strip eyes.
If you raise your eyes you could see yourself with a wig on a billboard; Savana LavaGirl, they say sometimes it’s your name and that the ‘i’ is written without a dot but with a flame. If you walk into a house, any house, you will see the children in front of the TV, with their smiles illuminated by the recordings of your face, Savana. If you turn a magazine, you will find yourself printed there. You said I’m more famous than The Beatles and you were only twelve, for sure they are going to quote that—word by word—in tomorrow’s obituary page.
You could recognize me in my mother for having a crucifix hanging in the living room and for saying hijo de puta to anyone getting in her way. She says grace before eating, and feeds the strays with grounded glass and meat. With this type of mother anything can happen. It could happen—for example—that they throw you a hot coffee simply because you didn’t want to make your bed.
Mother, I said one day, I’m going to art school. She just showed the I-don’t-wanna-know of her looks and returned to the album of photographs that she was checking with her glasses on. You could have seen those same bifocal glasses on my father. The one that gave me the inheritance of this 5’9 height; the one full of promises who left my mother; the one that my mother cut out of every family picture with the nose hair trimmer. Later we heard that in a flight he lost his life: such fear he had of turbulences, that one of them stopped his heart. That same day, my mother drank an aguardiente straight and lit a candle with the picture of her husband the saint, the one that from that point on, she decided, hadn’t deserted her. Her teeth stood out in a half-sided smile.
The day you appeared to me for the first time, Anna Molly—girl with an Oscar since age 9—your mother Tinsley was also half-side smiling. From her West Hollywood condo, in her face she had landed. Pum. Puf. Splash. People in the street breathed the smell of suicide. Blood, my little girl, never allows a clear sight of the significant—it didn’t let them see you, the folk-haired child leaning against a white wall, chewing gum with an unleashed mouth. I aimed at you with my camera and your pupil-less eyes looked at me. God exists because you existed, Anna.
The suicide pictures of your mother—who was your mother only by the hurried fact of pushing you out of her vagina—paid for my rent for almost like a year complete. As you know, Tinsley didn’t die, but it would have been better if she had. After leaping into the malaise void, she inherited an urgency for opioids and fake doctors.
With your picture—a tearless, soulless daughter—I could have made a lot of money. But as a leap of faith to your presence, I printed it up, erased the file and left the copy at your agency. Anna Molly, I wrote with my number. A year passed and that year was one of those in which you live in front of a screen; finger on the refresh button; waiting for the golden girl to come up off her pedestal just to reach at you with her porcelain hand. I turned 30. You, 14.
Elloooooo, sounded in the phone the cadence of a prodigy child that didn’t talk like the others talked. I rrreally liked the picture, I totally look like pappa.
Right in front of you, I watched you suck on the pink milkshake through the red and white paper straw. Eh! fucktard, you called the driver right after you finished dinner. People turned over at the word. You showed them your diastema smile, and at the sound of your sympathy they got closer to ask you for photos, autographs, a piece of your flesh, a piece of your hair. Eh! fucktard—you resumed when everyone had left happy with the souvenir of your being—you can take a cab. You took some of the crumpled bills out of your Levi’s and threw the money on the ground.
If I saw you moving your mouth without saying a word I knew that you were accumulating saliva for an eventual discharge. Transparent, tepid, it dropped down my cheek. Savana LavaGirl cracked up with laughter, The Girl Nightmare. That day I offered myself to be your grown-up friend. You wouldn’t have to ride solo ever again. We passed through people like billboards in the convertible we drove to live like movies. We reached our hands to the sky like the palm trees we left behind in the Hollywood Boulevard, in the Sunset Boulevard, in the Santa Monica Boulevard. I listened to your fire: teec. Savana Nails of Tar.
Why do you smoke? I asked you. Why do you dress like a fucking man? You replied. You never answered questions; you waited for people to tell you first. In a restaurant on the road to Ensenada, you took out a purple metal pill box and started to sing, playing it like you were on a band. California Dreamin’: we entered a restaurant through the kitchen door to a little room where sunset lobsters were served to us. In there you extended your arm and showed me an 11 Month Strong coin that hanged from your wrist. Why do you talk like a Mexican? She gave; she expected to receive.
Aren’t you going to ask me about the pictures of your mom crashed into the pavement?
No. Why do you talk like a Mexican?
In your casino-colored notebook you wrote ‘sudaca’ and all the way back to L.A you dedicated yourself to mumble zu-duh-cah. Zoo. Deh. Kah. In that notebook, ‘fucktard’ was also engraved. The silence you applied when you wrote with gel pens and drew penises, tits, and flowers, talked about how if you only could have decided what to do in the world, you would have chosen to collect bad words. Just to antagonize oblivion—fight back Hollywood time.
Ambidextrous you were for the lack of a half finger you lost thanks to your head hell. I looked at your face and then to the finger, because it was even stranger your neon being when I looked directly at what you lacked, a ghost limb that in fact could be seen because the rest of you was a shadow anyways. With the limb you held the cigarette and with your tilted face you listened to my talking: fables of parties in the third world where I had to take pictures of the illustrious, fat, greasy bright assistants. You straightened your head and lifted up your chin and threw out the smoke to the stucco, to the sky.
Anna Molly was 14. Anna Molly turned 15. You were 15 with your hand full of the birthday cake; you were 15 with the other hand that had the phone with the conversation about how much money in tax deductions is worth having the Foundation Disappear Here. Your phantom finger on my whisky glass. You put it on your lips. You cleaned your tongue with your hand. You spitted on the chair’s side; spitted in the magazine Persian rug. Your children friends didn’t count their lives in years, but in the months clean; pats on their backs they received with each visit to their psychiatrists. Anna Molly was 10 months. Anna Molly was 11. Your therapist told you that when you reach the first year you will only have a coin when you turn another.
A dress as white as when you roll your eyes. You took it out of a bedroom of a house that was not yours but a lady’s with amusing hair. You raised your arms to say hello and curled them around her neck. She was the grandmother that wore that same dress to her wedding, just like her own mother and grandmother hanging in the melancholia wall. Never had existed a child with that many obligations before being even born. I touched the dress. You turned around perplexed that it could be touched. Your breath started to sing the now-it’s-your-turn. I placed a picture of a white man in your hand just so you could look at it very close, almost touching your nose. The body had stab wounds confetti-like. You spitted a laugh like lava and threw yourself to the floor to imitate the dead man.
You got out of your trailer with the long-haired wig, with the heroin-like bodysuit, with your face like a fist. You kicked the chair; screamed with void. You enlisted your notebook from heart to the one that tried to ask you what was going on. You rearranged the chair, brushed your hair. Sat down. You offered me the palm of your hand; I answered with a couple of more photographs. There are people that would like to watch you burn, Anna. We have to resume the shoot, they told her. But your pupil-less eyes, Savana Super Girl, were focused in the picture of a police officer illuminating a torso without members in a park. I also liked seeing that photograph: at the back of it the summer sunset; at the front, the little man with the bulletproof vest, the green light on his hand, the long grass, the white flesh like your teeth, Savana, that you didn’t realize but had started to smile half-side.
I knew which cigarettes you smoked. How you signed. How many credit cards you had. What was the password of the bank. I knew beforehand whom you were going to insult. Which photographs you were going to like. I knew that you couldn’t sleep unless it was on the tub. Me, myself, washed your hair in the early mornings after nightmare nights. Braids with four strands. Pink always with white. Is fine, Anna, everything’s all right.
Anomaly I used to call you and you cried. Abnormally, you said back. But how couldn’t you be, star child, if you were fashioned from the thing that beyond the rainbow lies? I wanted to taste your tears. I got so close and you thought I was going to hold you. I took out my tongue and I licked your cheek, and you knew all that was wrong with me, Savana, with you or without you by my side.
Your kicks in my stomach were nothing but politeness. We both sat on the floor and started to laugh with fury in our lungs. No more ever again, you said in front of the mirror, and I thought you were talking about this. Us. You turned around with decision between your eyebrows. No more ever again. And so you disappeared for a couple of years in which your face didn’t light-up any screen. One day I heard: Hurry up, you’ll have to be the first to get to Savana the kid superstar with her body collapsed in a gas station on the road to golden sunsets bloody psicosis boulevard.
Valentina Calvache is storyteller and translator concerned with the liminal intersections between fiction, media, and cultural production. Her most recent work has appeared in Río Grande Review, Vice Colombia, Universo Centro, and Alchemy: Journal of Translation. She is an MFA candidate at UCSD. Reach her at: firstname.lastname@example.org