From "The Girl Who Ate Her Own Skin," an O. Henry Recommended Story
Anne didn't answer. She had an odd smile on her face. She kept looking at the photos and looking away, as if the mother were naked in them. Cilia poked her. Anne slapped her hand away. "Of course it's her," said Anne. Who else would it be?" She took one more look at the photos, and then slipped off the couch and crawled to a chair on the other side of the room.
The mother eyed Anne's backside. Cilia could feel the mother zeroing in on the places that made Annes thirteen-year-old shoulders hunch up in shame. Sometimes, in the grocery store, the mother would point out the women, the ones who left their houses with pink foam curlers still in their hair, who wore stretch pants with T-shirts that hung over their stomach rolls and covered their ample rear ends, and say to Anne, "That's going to be you one day." Cilia watched Anne lumber across the room on all fours. She felt a familiar need to protect her, but also to scream at her for making herself look like a fool.
"You need to worry about those hips," said the mother to Anne, "but you're lucky. You got my waist." She stretched her hand out. "Give it back," she cackled. "Give me back my waist."
Anne shrank as much as she could in the corner of the chair, her hands covering her stomach, as if she really believed the mother could and would slice her in half and not bother to glue her back together.
"You?" The mother looked at her the way she often did, as if she suddenly remembered she had another child and wasn't pleased about it. "You favor your daddy."
("The Girl Who Ate Her Own Skin" by Rae Paris first appeared in Indiana Review. Copyright © 2008 by Rae Paris. Excerpted by permission of the author.)