Good evening, FRESH MEATers!
Tonight’s tale is about a girl named Tara, who had a face to die for.
So grab a bucket of popcorn, curl up with your cat, and watch(or read below) if you dare!
This one’s gonna leave you Tara-fied…
By Maegan Heil
Cheese pizza, y’all. Take a bite, pass it around.
A mouthful for Mary. A swallow for Suzy. Don’t be shy. Nibble that slice all the way back.
What is left, here in my hand?
That’s right, a piece of crust. A sliver of dried-up dough…that nobody wants to touch, not really. Not unless they been crouched down for hours in the corner of a utility closet, just waiting for their cue…
Look at this piece of crust, and ask yourself: Is this what you want to give to your future husband?
Some of y’all looking at me like we’re talking about food.
True Love, y’all.
True Love Waits, and let me tell you a little story about a girl named Tara. Who instead of signing her pledge card… Instead of slippin’ on the Purity Ring that you-all should be wearing on your little fingers, came to school with a green ribbon tied around her neck.
What’s the first thing them boys wanted to do when they seen that ribbon?
That’s right, they wanted to untie it.
Because you see girls, whatcha don’t understand is how hard it is for a boy to see a girl with purity in his heart when she’s doing her Mile Run in a pair of booty shorts, face done up like a supermodel.
A boy sees a ring on a finger, and his mind says, Taken. But a boy sees a ribbon, and his mind goes, A present? For me?
When it comes to Love, a boy’s mind can get all kinds of confused. Up means down. No means Yes….
This green ribbon tied around Tara’s neck, she never takes it off. Not even for Gym.
Over by the basketball rack, the boys’ coach, Big Red, stands with his hands in his pockets and lets his voice boom. “If you wanna get the ladies, you gotta get big!”
On the ladies’ side of the gym, the side facing the ear Big Red can’t hear out of, Tara’s BFF, Payton says, “Big and hard.”
And the line of girls giggles.
Until Morgan joins in—then the giggling stops.
Big Red brings a cupped hand to his lips, chirps the whistle tucked beneath, and the boys clomp up the stairs and scatter to the stations.
Derrick on the Leg Press. Meathead on the Cable Bar.
Guys like Meathead and Derrick–with their stacked biceps, their pepperoni-free faces–they’re the only guys girls see.
Between reps, Meathead wanders to the wall of chain links, hooks his fingers in the gaps, and hollers down. “Tara! Angel!”
Meathead says if God put Tara’s face on Payton’s body, He would have made the perfect girl.
Besides Meathead and Derrick, no-one else matters. Guys like Pizza-Face or Brad Zitt as they sometimes called him, guys like that are invisible, even to Big Red.
Big Red don’t care if the skinny guy with the pockmarked cheeks wanders downstairs. Pops a squat on the sideline and inserts a needle into the swell of his buttocks.
If you wanna get the ladies, you gotta get big.
Down at half-court, Coach Camel Crotch chirps her own whistle, and the girls weave into place, tallest to shortest.
On account of height, Tara gets paired with Morgan.
Tara lies on her back, legs bent at the knees, Morgan’s hands holding Tara’s knees together, Morgan’s knees pinning Tara’s sneakers to the floor.
Camel Crotch holds a stopwatch in one hand and brings the other to her lips—chirp-chirp—and Tara, arms crossed over her chest, flexes her six-pack.
Every sit-up sends a whiff of watermelon Bubble Yum, the same stuff that Morgan finds every day stuck to her locker, right next to the Sharpie dick, the Sharpie ballsack. Every day since the day Morgan’s daddy bought Dignity Funeral, about the same time that Number Twelve went head-on in his Ford Ranger over the centerline.
It is true that after death, the body becomes stiff.
But the duration of rigor mortis depends…
Cause of death. Size of body.
A lineman like Meathead, who could bench his own weight might regain elasticity not long after, while a running back, like Number Twelve, might maintain that stiffness.
But the idea that one could become aroused after death…
That a young lady might use that arousal for pleasure?
As with any tale, there’s a little truth hidden inside. Rigor erectus. AKA Angel Lust. AKA the death erection. Occurs in the corpses of men who’ve died violent deaths such as by strangulation…poison.
Hidden in every story is a little truth, but the rumors that Tara and Payton passed around, that Morgan had fornicated with a corpse?
These spreaders of untruth, The Lord calls them scandalmongers.
Out on that half-court line, Camel Crotch chirps her whistle again, and Morgan and Tara trade places.
And Tara uses the tips of her fingers to pin Morgan’s knees, like she’s gonna need a cootie shot after. Tara says, “Your makeup looks really nice today, MORG-an.” Placing great emphasis on the Morgue part. So that Payton and the other Cronies, giggle.
It would be funny.
It would be funny had Morgan’s daddy got elected coroner or gone to college to be a forensic pathologist, but unfortunately for Tara and Payton, the reference is inaccurate.
You see, the morgue is where bodies are stored.
The funeral home is where they're transformed.
Prep rooms, AKA embalming rooms, feature a stainless steel table with a large sink at the end, but all you really need is a bench and a drain.
After school, when Morgan walks in, mascara dripping to her neck, Morgan’s daddy teases that Tara’s head would fall off if it wasn’t tied on tight.
What Morgan’s daddy doesn’t know is that more than all As on her report card, more than that scholarship to Harvard, what Morgan would kill for, what any kid that age would kill for, is to be seen.
To get a rise out of a guy like Meathead…a glance from Derrick, the kind he steals at Tara when Meathead’s not looking.
Tara. Payton. The Cronies. Their faces all made up exactly the same, all Tara-fied.
YouTube, Tara-fied, and you’ll pull up pages of videos of a girl with a green ribbon.
How to highlight one’s cheekbones. How to contour one’s nose.
With enough practice, you can make a face look like anyone.
Morgan, with her head tied on tight, Morgan understood that practice made perfect.
Morgan, whose job it was to put makeup on the dearly departed after Pizza-Face had cleaned the bodies…after Daddy had embalmed them.
Morgan could see that, this Tara and her? Same jawline. Similar noses too. But even if they didn’t, well…a little contouring goes a long way.
Back in the gymnasium, Big Red chirps his whistle, and from the mezzanine, the boys thunder down.
Derrick punts a basketball to the ceiling and knocks out a light, one of those metal halide bulbs. That thing’ll take thirty minutes to come back on, same time it takes to replace human blood with embalming fluid on a body still warm to the touch.
Tonight, those metal halides will be dimmed to dots.
Tonight, streamers will hang from the hoops and balloons will be arched around doorways for Heaven on Earth, this year’s theme for prom.
The boys and girls depart to their separate locker rooms, and Tara’s fingers barely brush the handle when Meathead calls out, “See you tonight!”
Tara pauses. Lets her arm fall, slow-motion, like in a movie, then turns back. “Hey Morgan,” Tara says, eyes locked on Meathead. “Hey Morgan, Meathead wants to ask you something.”
And when Meathead gets down on one knee, mouths the question, Morgan—whose head is tied on tight–knows this is a trick.
But Morgan nods anyhow. And later that night, prom night, Morgan cues up the YouTube. And like Payton, the Cronies, and Tara, she too, gets Tara-Fied. She too pulls a dress over her head, a white dress, the same dress Morgan’s momma wore to marry Morgan’s daddy when she was still alive; same dress Morgan will someday wear again when it’s her turn to walk down the aisle…
Out on the curb, behind the Dignity sign, Meathead sits in his Chevy; lays on the horn. And Morgan’s daddy watches from the window while Morgan climbs inside.
But Pastor Brad…Matthew 7:9 tells us the role of a father is to protect his daughter!
And it is!
Morgan’s daddy wasn’t gonna let them bury Morgan in tampons. Or pour a bucket of blood on her dead momma’s dress. This wasn’t no horror movie, this was real life. And Morgan didn’t have telekinesis or mind powers. No, all Morgan had was her daddy.
And her daddy’s helper.
So while Meathead slow-danced with Morgan, while Tara and Payton snuck off to the girls’ locker room to forge King and Queen ballots, Pizza-Face sat in a closet beneath a metal box of switches.
And on Daddy’s cue, Pizza-Face flipped the breaker, and the murmur of the crowd was so thick that nobody even noticed the swish-swish of the embalmer.
Typical embalming room has a stainless steel table and large sink, but really all you need is a bench and a drain.
When the halides start to glow again, Meathead’s phone chimes, and two words appear on the screen: Locker Room.
If there is one thing running through a boy’s mind during prom, that thing is how to get your fingers on a green ribbon.
At the table with the punch, Camel Crotch and Big Red hover over the bowl, sifting ladles of juice through phone flashlights. And while they take turns taste-testing for a spike, Meathead slips around Big Red on the side he can’t hear, and into the girls’ locker room.
Meathead bumps a shin on a bench, fumbles for his own flashlight. Follows a beam down a row of lockers to the back. Tara sits, face to the wall, a tail of a green satin dangling between her shoulder blades.
Unable to wait, Meathead runs his hands along Tara’s firm, firm skin.
“Angel?” Meathead says, making his way up Tara’s new curves. “You get a new push-up bra or what?”
From an orifice, a smell escapes, and Meathead takes a step back. “Jesus, Angel–what’d you eat?” Meathead fans the air. Sucks in a breath through the side of his mouth and gets his head back in the game. “You gonna let me untie that ribbon or what?”
Unable to wait, Meathead unties the ribbon.
Unable to wait, Meathead turns Tara around.
The sound of a deadbolt clicks. The fluorescents flicker, and bright white floods the room. Heaven on earth.
As Meathead’s vision adjusts, Tara’s features cut in. Eyes popped, mouth twisted, face forever terrified...
Tara’s face falls away, along with her head. Payton’s body slumps to the side. And the ribbon in between floats to the floor.
I pick it up, wrap its length around Meathead’s neck.
“No,” Meathead says, but you see? That’s the thing about boys…
You say No…
But we hear Yes.
The green ribbon tight around Meathead’s neck, I extend my triceps how Big Red taught us.
If you wanna get the ladies, you gotta get big.
But if you want Morgan, if you want Love, well…True Love is about something else...
So while Morgan’s daddy readies the scalpel, while he locates the carotid artery and the jugular vein, I wait.
While Morgan’s daddy makes the slight incision, while he inserts the cannula, wiggles in the drain tube, I wait.
Because True Love Waits.
I wait for the swish-swish of the embalmer. For Meathead’s arms to thrash, for his hips to buck.
There’s some truth in every story, and at the end of this story, Meathead was the biggest, even in the end. And it is true that when Morgan saw the size of the bulge in Meathead’s pants, she let out a gasp.
But the angel Morgan lusted after wasn’t located beneath a zipper. What Morgan wanted was a face—Tara’s face—a face that could be hers, if only that length of green was in her hands.
They say if you love something, you set it free…
And my angel wasn’t gonna grow up to hearse bodies like her daddy…wasn’t gonna preach the Gospel like Pizza-Face, or as she nowadays calls him, Pastor Brad.
YouTube, Tara-fied, and you’ll pull up pages of videos of a girl with a green ribbon. Showing the Derricks, showing the Cronies, that practice makes perfect.
For the dearly departed, orifices are filled with cotton. But for Meathead…
Meathead got a giant wad of Bubble Yum. Watermelon flavor, with a fleck of locker paint in the mix. Already-Been-Chewed, and that’s exactly what you’re gonna have for your future husbands if you don’t wait.
True Love Waits. Ain’t that right, Morgan?
True Love Waits, Y’all. Eat that pizza—there’s more in the back. Eat that pizza. Sign those pledge cards. Oh—and stop by the Choir Room to get those fingers sized. Rings should be in next Sunday.
Thank you for taking the time to read my work.
Until we MEAT again,
My Third Entry in Chuck Palahniuk’s Story Night Contest!! With the winner being the person with the most likes on their Video; winners announced in June.
View my First Entry Here: SPLIT LIP.
View my Second Entry Here: JOY RIDE.
Great story! Love the twists! Good use of objects! Somehow, perversely perhaps, I want to order pizza for dinner? In my defense, I always want to order pizza for dinner.
Minor suggestion: I wonder if you could find an object to tie Pizza Face and his waiting together, even now. Maybe Morgan takes the ribbon and slips into Tara’s dress and PizzaFace has her wedding gown and asks what to do with it and she says I don’t need it now but he keeps it, so he can say something like True Love Waits, I still got that dress...
I like how you capture the universal concerns of high school, but also the new reality of influencer makeup channels!
And I know this is a sitcom/movie plot, but I did in real life have a buddy who went to Catholic school and loved the purity messaging because somehow the butthole didn’t count?!?!?
Oh Maegan... oh... ee... ack... aaahhhhh!!! 🔥🔥🔥
I really liked this.😊 My favorite of yours so far.
Feedback: I was getting dragged happily through the horror until you hit me with the "I" pronoun, and then I got pulled out. I wasn't sure who "I" was. 😬 I'm sure I missed something along the way, but to try to keep going I decided "I" was Morgan's dad - until a few lines later when "Morgan's daddy" reappeared in the third person. So, I'm still not sure who the narrator was. Also, not entirely sure who Pizza Face is in relation to Morgan and her dad. Does he just work for them? I'm sure a second read would clarify some of this for me and I will read it again. Just wanted to throw some first impressions at you.
Gym glass stuff was great. I got all goosebumpy about prom. Love the rumors around Morgan railing dead guys and the Instagram face stuff. So great, Maegan. Well done!!!