The Girl With The Wrist Helen Trees Broke

08/22/08

           Helen Trees met the girl with the wrist she broke during the latest freshman orientation in the summer, scheduled right before fall semester started. Because Helen was from New York and not Ohio, the state in which their college was founded, Helen intrigued her and the fact that this intrigued someone intrigued Helen. The Ohio State University. Go Bucks! They bonded immediately. Helen Trees noted a few things while at freshman orientation, one, every time The Ohio State University was mentioned, one must say, Go Bucks! (the exclamation mark mandatory!). The Buckeyes, [1] as in Go Bucks!, were the football team of The Ohio State University (Go Bucks!) and top priority at The Ohio State University (Go Bucks!) and pretty much the entire state of Ohio. Two, Helen noted all the girls at The Ohio State University (Go Bucks!) dressed in men’s oversized clothing (Who knew?). And three, the exclamation mark was a very big thing for the people of Ohio, everyone Helen met at orientation was very friendly and she deduced everyone in Ohio must have been, hence the exclamation mark at the end of every sentence! (Go Everyone!)
           Normally, Helen Trees would have never participated in such ridiculousness and perhaps deep down she really didn’t want to and her friends in Manhattan would never let her live down going to a Big Ten School and not an Ivy League university. Neither would her parents, each holding undergraduate and graduate degrees from Columbia University, her mother a doctorate degree as well (Helen’s father received his Medicinae Doctor from Cornell University); Columbia University did not accept Helen, regardless of how much money her father offered to donate to the university[2]. Helen’s disciplinary record superseded all legacy preferences for admission. Helen’s last staple, for which she was almost expelled, to her disciplinary record before she managed to squeak by graduating from The Spence School with a C+ average, was running an escort service for The Browning School, an all boys academy on the Upper East Side. It wasn’t a true escort service, the girls of Spence were not fucking or blowing the boys from Browning for money, Helen taking her cut, she was simply running the racket so boys and girls could meet each other, and if they did get on well, well, that was just an added bonus[3].
           Money was the only reason Helen did not get kicked out of Spence; her grandmother donated a large sum of cash to the establishment for the new library. The stereotypical wealthy family saved the day and the problem child still came out on top. But that was the last of it. Helen would be the only one of her friends and family who would not graduate from college with a bachelor’s degree from an Ivy League school. Then Helen remembered she didn’t really have any friends and that her parents hated her, so she decided she would do her best to fit in at The Ohio State University (Go Bucks!), use exclamation marks, and shout Go Bucks! but she would not wear men’s clothing[4].
           Catherine Quinn, the girl whose wrist Helen Trees broke, seemed like a decent girl, so Helen ignored her men’s oversized blue and white striped Ralph Lauren Polo shirt, equipped with matching ribbon in her body-waved hair, an up do, popular circa 1984 (and not in a good way; it was the mid-90’s and the 80’s hadn’t made their way back in style yet), and decided to join her in the excitement Catherine felt having learned they would be living in the same dormitory complex! She even invited Helen to call her CQ!
           CQ! was the kind of girl who in the first five minutes of meeting Helen had already told her what she (CQ!) thought of everyone else in orientation: who was cute, who was fat, who was trashy, who was filthy rich, who was going to cry when their parents dropped them off in a few weeks, that her major was going to be Business Administration with a minor in Marketing, that her brother’s major was the same – having graduated from The Ohio State University (Go Bucks!) as well and now currently employed at Ernst & Young, what her parents did for a living, Dad, an auto mechanic, and Mom, a housewife and former Avon representative, (and how she had accidentally walked in on them having sex and that her mother was on top), that her boyfriend and she had had sex seventy-two times, how she didn’t swallow after blowing him, how she had feelings for one of her girlfriend’s ex-boyfriends, Chris Collins, and possibly fucked around ever so innocently with him while her boyfriend, Tom Darby (being a year older than she and attending college at Ohio University) was away, how her best girlfriends from high school had gone to the earlier orientations without her because she was on vacation in Myrtle Beach, where again she had accidentally fucked around with a really cute boy, but from North Carolina – which really didn’t count because he was not from Ohio, how excited she was to have met Helen and couldn’t wait to hang out and party with Helen being she (CQ) was so bored with the same old people from high school, even though all her girls were attending The Ohio State University (Go Bucks!) and living not only in the same dorm, but on the same floor, except for one who was kind of an outcast among the group (take note, the outcast becomes Helen’s roommate) and finally back to the seventy-two times sex and Tom Darby, how she could only come when she’s on top – just like Mom – but Tom’s favorite was doggie-style and once again how she didn’t swallow after blowing him, but with more detail in regards to the faithful cum-towel that must be kept beside the bed at all times right before he was about to explode a huge stinky, yet protein-filled, wad in to her mouth.
           As for Helen, she offered CQ! a cigarette and her last name.

           When school started, Catherine, er, CQ!, sought Helen Trees out at the very beginning to introduce her (Helen) to her (CQ) girlfriends from high school, a group Helen would grow to call the Fucking Loser Bitches High School Group, and insisted Helen move in with Sylvie Drago (the outcast), who didn’t have a roommate, at least not one deemed fit for the Fucking Loser Bitches High School Group.
           Drapes, as Sylvie Drago’s roommate was called, was a descendant of a devout Saudi Arabian family who was not allowed to shower in the bathroom shared among the floor, so Drapes stashed herself in one of the stalls and washed her crotch with a bucket of water, which she kept in the closet and dragged to the facilities day in day out, wore heavy drapes (hence) as clothes, all day all night and absolutely under no circumstances could have the door to the room open without covering every single piece of skin (minus her face) as not to expose herself to any boys roaming the floor. It was against Drapes’ religion to permit boys to see her without the drapes and since the fucking things made her sweat profusely, they were always off and the door was always shut, the stench of boy-sweaty-socks and boy-sweaty-balls permeated within the confines of the room.
           Sylvie had not factored in the possibility of Drapes as her roommate at The Ohio State University (Go Bucks!), or any other foreigner, so Sylvie confided in CQ and hoped she would be able to produce a suitable roommate.
           Helen joined CQ and the Fucking Loser Bitches in the hallway on their floor in their dormitory. They (the Fucking Loser Bitches), a pack of hungry dogs, circled Helen, each waiting to sniff her butt or hump her leg, since CQ had peed on her at orientation.
           To Helen’s left, Robin Gallagher, strawberry blonde and freckled-faced, nose ring, Bob Marley T-shirt coupled with a pleated pair of (Helen tagged as men’s, but questionable[5]) khaki Ralph Lauren shorts, and Birkenstocks (!!!), who walked with a limp, offered Helen a nod and a “Hey.” She leaned against the wall and shifted her weight on to her good leg. “Knee Surgery. Blew it out playing soccer.” Helen noted possible lesbian[6].
           Across from Helen, Melinda Mayfield, short and curly and frizzy and despicable hair, wore (see The Ohio State University (Go Bucks!) fashion page 1) a men’s oversized green and white striped Ralph Lauren Polo shirt, equipped with matching ribbon in her, come to find out, perm-ed hair, gave Helen a quick hug and said, “We call me Mel! We’re so glad you’re here, right CQ? We’ve been looking forward to meeting you, ever since CQ met you. We’ve heard a lot about you from CQ.” Mel looked to CQ for approval and upon getting it, retreated to her position – slightly behind and to the left CQ. CQ flipped her heavily moussed body-waved hair over her shoulder knocking Mel in the face with the crisp strands. Helen noted Mel’s narrowed eyes and clenched jaw as she removed a hair from her glossed lips[7].
           To Helen’s right, Kim Whitaker, tall and thin and brunette with long hair pulled back in a sleek ponytail, removed a Kleenex from the sleeve of her men’s (yes) red and white striped Ralph Lauren Polo shirt, though long-sleeved, wiped her nose and eyes and offered Helen a weak smile and said, “I’ve never been to New York.” And added between sobs, “I’d love to go home with you sometime.” Helen noted a wide gap between her front teeth and that she was slightly cross-eyed or perhaps one was just lazy.
           Helen imagined bringing Kim to New York and introducing her to her father. Then Helen imagined that her father was speaking to her again.
                      Helen: Dad, this is Kim Whitaker from school.
                      Dr. Trees: From The Ohio State University?
                      Helen and Kim: Go Bucks!
                      Dr. Trees: (speechless)
                      Helen: Kim, this is my father Dr. Francis Connor Trees.
                      Kim: (sobbing)
           Helen pictured Kim offering her hand to Helen’s father, quickly stuffing the Kleenex up her sleeve, hoping Helen’s father wouldn’t see, but of course he would. He’d never shake her hand, not only because of the germ-factor on her ragged snot tissue, but really he’d never get past the eyes. Helen’s father would stare at Kim in disbelief. He’d be calculating the following:
           A) Eyes crossed? Or one lazy?
           B) Same as A
           C) Same as A and B
           D) Did Helen say friend?
           E) Did Helen say Bucks?
           Helen’s father would later say to Helen, “To be successful, one needs to surround themselves with successful people.” Helen couldn’t decide if she would stand up for Kim in the proposed scenario and The Ohio State University (Go Bucks!) or fold and succumb to her father’s vision of success.
           Upon second glance at the Fucking Loser Bitches (and especially Kim), Helen noted she would succumb. She was sure she would find at least a few successful friends at OSU (GB!). At least to introduce to her father, they would speak to each other again, right?[8]
Mel said, “We’re upset because we miss Eddie.” She put an arm around Kim and as Kim blew her nose Mel added, “We try not to speak of Eddie.”
           CQ said, “Her boyfriend. He’s only twenty minutes away Kim. Jesus.”
           Kim said, “Fuck you Caty.” Her face scrunched up and red, her hideous gap revealed.
           Mel said, “We’re calling her CQ! now.”
           Kim said, “Okay, well fuck her too!”
           CQ said, “fuck you too” and Kim said, “fuck you” again and Mel said her, “we” bit. Helen was disappointed in her new Ohio friends and began to question her decision to leave all her miserable non-friends and non-family in New York. Whatever happened to the friendly orientation days, where exclamation marks were used without the accompaniment of four letter words? Surely Helen could have at least gotten in to New York University (or worse SUNY) had she applied. She watched them squabble, their baggy sleeves caused them to make each hand gesture twice; once with either hand (Kim) or elbow (CQ and Mel) trapped in the men’s oversized sleeve and twice to reveal a pointed and or middle finger. CQ was okay and maybe Robin (suspect lesbian), but the other two insufferable. Helen hoped she might be able to turn CQ and Robin against Mel and Kim.
           Robin said, “Guys!”
           They stopped. A few parents carrying garbage bags full of clothes and shoes, lingered in the hallway a few doors down, pausing briefly to ensure everything was okay. Helen, embarrassed to be connected to such catty behavior, smiled and playfully rolled her eyes, confirming only silly girl stuff was the case. Helen made eye contact with one of the fathers wearing an OSU t-shirt, which read (yes) Go Bucks! and thought of her father. Her father didn’t wear T-shirts.
           “Okay, okay. I know it’s hard Kim, but Eddie’s probably having the time of his life right now. So, so should you. There is no way he is standing around crying to his friends.” CQ was right. Helen was amazed anyone would go to college committed to a boyfriend from high school, but then remembered the gap and the lazy eye (or crossed) and thought it better for Kim to hold on to anyone she could.[9]
           A group of girls squealed at the other end of the hallway as a boy in a towel pounded on a door yelling, “Let me in dickhead!” Helen was getting annoyed. “Who smokes?” she said.
           CQ, Robin, and Kim said they did, Mel, an asthmatic said she (we) did not, and no one but Helen had any cigarettes. She handed each girl a Marlboro Light knowing damn well this was going to get old fast. Smokers, or so-called smokers, who did not possess cigarettes but smoked everyone else’s was not something Helen tolerated. Yet, in an attempt to make good with her new Ohio girlfriends, she handed out her cigarettes with an exclamation mark on the end of each one! Here! Here! Here!
           “Hey wait up.” A girl wearing tight black jeans and a white button-down shirt (not Ralph Lauren), a tearstained face, and heavy blue eyeliner, stomped down the hall and called out (no exclamation mark) to them. She reached the group, packing her cigarettes and muttering, “Fuck this.” Helen noted no ribbon, no men’s shirt, and no fucking embroidered horse: the outcast, no doubt. The girl was Sylvie Drago and her introduction to Helen Trees consisted of a scowl (from Sylvie) and a raised eyebrow (from Helen).
           Sylvie said, “Fuck this, fuck her.” Then to Helen said, “You’re Helen Trees?” Helen said yes. “You’re moving in tonight,” Sylvie said. Helen more importantly noted she had her own cigarettes.

           It was very interesting for Helen living with Sylvie, the outcast of the Fucking Loser Bitches High School Group, not only because Helen incessantly kept finding teeny tiny rubber bands strewn all over the fucking room since Drapes had worn braces [10] and for some reason thought it might be funny to hide them all over the place to angrily disgust the next resident in retaliation for having been pushed out of her dorm room and forced to live in the all-foreigners-dormitory, which was taking away from Drapes’ [11] experience as a college student in the U.S. of A., but she was also completely filled in on the history of CQ and the Fucking Loser Bitches, why Sylvie was the outcast, and how Helen Trees had become the Liar, er, Liar! of the group.
           Upon hearing her new title, Helen was enraged. How dare those Fucking Loser Bitches turn against her, and not just against her, but against her behind her back. Sylvie informed Helen, CQ had told the Fucking Loser Bitches she was a Liar! after having met her at orientation. Helen wanted to know, no, demanded to know, what she had lied about. Then Helen remembered she had lied about everything.

           During orientation, CQ said, “So, do you have any brothers and sisters and if so, what do they do?”
           “No,” Helen said.
           Helen had one sister who was institutionalized for attempting to commit suicide twice. Once, as Mary Katherine Trees, a success, according to Helen’s mother, and once as Gloria “Glory” Peterson, a failure. Glory Peterson was institutionalized and technically Glory Peterson was not Helen’s sister. So, no, Helen did not have any brothers and sisters.
           “Um, is your mom someone you can talk to, like a friend, like, talk openly with about anything and everything?”
           “Yes,” Helen said.
           Helen had not spoken to her mother in five years. They communicated via written notes left in the kitchen on the butcher block, once in the morning, and again in the evening. The notes were quite friendly and Helen was pleased. So, yes, Helen was friends with her mother.
           “I really don’t know if I want to marry Tom, I mean, I would hate! hate! hate! to get a divorce. God! Are your parents divorced?”
           “No,” Helen said.
           Helen’s parents got divorced when Helen was nine years old. Since then, her mother had remarried a crusty Italian Mathematician, Gus Della Penna, and her father had remarried First Ex-Wife, an older woman Helen had never met, and eventually he remarried Second Ex-Wife, a young girl Helen had never met, and finally, just this past August, remarried an even younger girl named Kristy Speigelman, who had just graduated from college two years ago, whom Helen met at their wedding. So, no, Helen’s parents were not divorced.

           Helen wondered how CQ knew she had lied at orientation and asked Sylvie. Sylvie said CQ’s mom had been seated beside Helen’s mom at the parents welcome dinner. But Helen told Sylvie there was no way Helen’s mother would ever reveal their family’s private life like that and Sylvie just shrugged. Then Helen remembered her mother’s pill addiction and drinking problem and recalled it increasing after Helen had announced her attending The Ohio State University (Go Bucks!). Helen noted to write her mother a note about this.
“Great,” Helen said and walked over to the window. She saw CQ and the Fucking Loser Bitches, minus Mel, bumming cigarettes from Paul, a stoner Helen really liked and unfortunately had confided in CQ about it. Helen imagined CQ telling everyone in the building about Helen Trees the Liar! in 303 and her crush on Paul the Stoner in 201.
           Sylvie said, “Look, technically you didn’t lie. I mean. I get it. But that’s not really the problem. I think she gets that you would lie about your sister and maybe your fucked up parents, it’s the other thing.”
           Helen spun around to face Sylvie. “What other thing?”
           “The sex thing.”
           Helen’s stomach dropped. She remembered her pounding heart and shortness of breath when CQ had asked her if she had a boyfriend and if Helen and her boyfriend had had sex. CQ also inquired about blowjobs and eating pussy and finger fucking and all kinds of things Helen had never done before. The closest Helen had come to a sex was in her junior year of high school, giving her then-boyfriend a hand job that left him with blue balls, and Betsy and Betty, at Spence, had found out and painted her locker blue and glued blue handballs all over it (very un-Spence-like) and it took Helen a long time to even get the joke. Everyone had laughed behind her back for months. Helen was humiliated. Then Helen remembered framing Betsy and Betty for cheating on an economics exam and the two of them getting expelled from Spence and not gaining entry to Princeton University, the one and only college to which they had applied.
           Helen knew there was no way CQ’s mom would have received that information from Helen’s mother. She returned to the window to watch CQ smoke Paul’s cigarettes. Helen thought college would be different, especially at OSU (GB!). She didn’t know anyone here and no one knew her. And quite frankly, Helen was better than all of them. Then Helen remembered she never wallowed in self-pity only vengeance.

           It just so happened that Helen Trees and Catherine Quinn were both majoring in Business Administration. However, CQ the Marketing route and Helen the Economics route. Helen had always done well in school, even though her disciplinary record stated otherwise (see page 2 escort service). Helen enjoyed it. She was one of those students when called upon always knew the correct answer, but managed to include some other brilliant notion while reciting it. Although her grades never really reflected her IQ, Helen hoped to become a member of MENSA, like her father, especially because her mother had been rejected and her stepfather thought it ridiculous. Mary Katherine Trees was a member and normally that would discourage Helen from desiring membership, but Mary Katherine was dead and Glory Peterson was not intelligent enough for acceptance. The one thing Helen could attribute to her mother was her ability to be an eloquent fall down drunk. Helen had no problem seizing the title of one of The Ohio State University’s (Go Bucks!) most profound and prestigious partiers, while proving her intellect among peers and faculty. For Helen it all just boiled down to time management.
           Helen needed only four point five hours of sleep a night. As long as Helen could block off the time and was able to distinguish between what she needed to get done and what she wanted to get done, Helen was able to accomplish it all. When CQ caught a glimpse of this quality, she tried to mimic it.
           CQ attempted to study when Helen studied and party when Helen partied, slighting herself of the sleep she required in order to maintain some sanity. This was a disaster. CQ needed sleep. What made it even more of a disaster for CQ was the thirty-five-page paper due at the end of the semester in one of their most challenging prerequisite classes for their major. The class notoriously was re-taken by each freshman student (CQ’s brother included). There was officially one week left before the paper was due and CQ hadn’t written a thing and she was panicked. Then Helen remembered she had turned her paper in early and received an extremely high mark (which inevitably lead to her not having to repeat the class).

           Only days before the end of the semester and the thirty-five-page paper was due, CQ paced in Helen and Sylvie’s room. Sylvie at her desk, her back facing CQ, and Helen at her closet, rifling through her clothes deciding what to wear. Helen said, “Do you really have absolutely nothing to turn in for even part of a grade?”
           “I just didn’t do the paper. Tom and I were not getting along and I spent every fucking night on the phone with him! God, why?” CQ flopped on to Helen’s chair in the corner of the room and looked green. Helen hoped she’d vomit elsewhere and that it would be very painful; she did not want her chair or her room to stink.
           Helen stood in the center of the room in her jeans and T-shirt, her hair wet having just showered. She was going to meet up with her new gang of friends, the ones who did not think she was a Liar!, or at least didn’t know it yet.
           “Fuck,” CQ said, “That chick with the broken arm is getting an Incomplete for the semester and writing the paper over the summer.”
           Helen brushed her long wet red hair and climbed up on to her lofted bed. “Yeah, but she’s an exception.”
           “I need to be an exception. Not my arm, but maybe just my wrist.”
           “You’re too late to be an exception. There’s no way Professor Wu, Professor Fuck Wu, is going to let you get away without turning in anything. Come on Caty, you’ve had all fucking semester.”
           Sylvie sat at her desk; open books and notepads covered the surface. She turned to face CQ. “So, why didn’t you just do it? Because of Tom?” She exhaled loudly through her nose, a decrescendo of air, and shook her head, her head shake keeping the decrescendo’s time. Her breathing said, “You’re a fucking idiot and I hope you suffer and die.” Helen noted how much she liked that exhale and head shake and hoped to mimic it in the future.
           CQ rolled her eyes and sank deeper in to the chair. She glanced at the phone mounted to the wall above her head, yanked the cord, the receiver landing in her lap and dialed. “Hey, get down here.” She tried several times to hang it up without having to move her body whatsoever, till Sylvie, fed up with her, stormed over and grabbed it from her.
           “Who the fuck was that?” Sylvie said.
           “Jeni.”
           Jeni Clementine was the reason Helen Trees had been officially branded the Liar. Fucking Jeni.
           Helen had a connection with Jeni that was absolutely infuriating to Helen. When Jeni was around Helen and they were talking, Helen felt she could share a little more about herself, being Jeni hadn’t graduated from Fucking Loser Bitches High like the rest of the group. Helen invited Jeni to visit her friend for the weekend, TJ Ley, who was getting his MBA from Case Western.[12] The Fucking Loser Bitches had returned to their hometown, somewhere outside of Cleveland (Helen noted everyone from Ohio was from somewhere outside of Cleveland), for their high school’s homecoming football game (Robin’s brother was a senior on the team), so Helen thought it would be fun, and a chance to bond, for Helen and Jeni. Little did Helen know, Jeni was one men’s oversized irregular striped Ralph Lauren Polo shirt away from being hailed the newest member of the Fucking Loser Bitches High School Group. Jeni, now deemed, Whore, had fucked TJ while Helen, passed out drunk, slept in the bed beside them.
           Weeks after the visit to Case Western, Helen grew suspicious of Jeni. One night, Helen, returning from her late night class, joined the Fucking Loser Bitches and Jeni (but not Sylvie) in CQ and Mel’s room for movie night. CQ and Mel on their beds, Robin, knee elevated under a few stacked pillows, on the futon chair, Kim on the floor, and Jeni, in her own chair she dragged from her room down the hall. Helen found a spot on the floor beside CQ’s bed. No one acknowledged her, everyone’s eyes glued to the television.
           Helen said, “Your knee’s acting up?”
           Robin said, after several moments, “Oh me?”
           Helen said, “No the other girl in the room with her bad knee elevated.” She looked to CQ for back up, preparing for a few minutes of teasing Robin, which usually led to hurting Mel’s feelings, which was really fun, but CQ didn’t react.
           Jeni said, “Helen, maybe Robin is sick of you always making fun of her.”
           “I don’t always make fun of her.”
           CQ said, “Yeah you do.”
           Helen said, “So do you. You make fun of everyone, especially Mel.” Mel got up and left the room.
           Jeni said, “Nice work. Why don’t you go paint your room blue or something.”
           Helen said, “What the fuck is that supposed to mean?” But she knew. She knew exactly how she found out too. Fucking TJ.
           Jeni said, “Oh Helen.” Jeni’s tone was sympathetic. Oh. Helen. Oh, poor, silly, fucking, inexperienced Helen.
           Helen said, “Oh Helen what?” Helen’s tone was sincere. She decided to play dumb. Helen glanced at the clock on the CQ’s nightstand. “Fuck, I gotta get into the paper, did you start yours CQ?”
           “Let’s watch porn. I have one of Tom’s. Helen? You want to watch?”
           Every eye on Helen.
           “What kind of porn?” Jeni said.
           “It’s soft core. A blowjob here, a HAND job there. Kid stuff, “ CQ said, “Helen? Yeah?”
           It was evident to Helen these few lines of dialogue had been rehearsed. Perhaps Mel’s exit staged.
           Helen said, “I’ll catch the next one. I’m going to get started on the paper. I want to get it out of the way. Have fun.”
           Helen tried not to run out of the room and slam the door behind her, but she was sure she did anyway. She stood in the hallway, wondering if she were going to cry. Tina, two doors down to the left, popped her head out. “Oh, hey Helen, you okay?”
           “Of course. Lots of shit to do.”
           “Right. Professor Wu, right?”
           “Right.”
           “Hey, if you see Leslie, tell her I’m looking for her. I thought I heard her door open. Anyway. Later.” She closed the door and Helen walked slowly down the hallway to her room. First thing she did was call Fucking TJ. It was the last time they spoke.

           Jeni the Whore, and the rest of the Fucking Loser Bitches, came down to Helen and Sylvie’s room at CQ’s command. They discussed CQ’s plan, the break-the-wrist-plan, to be the next exception in Professor Wu’s class, in detail. CQ hinted toward a volunteer to assist in the break and unfortunately, her Ralph Lauren Polo team of Fucking Loser Bitches did not have their hands in the air. The strategy pressed on to the how, shelving the who.
           Everyone (CQ, the Fucking Loser Bitches, Jeni, Sylvie, and Helen) gathered outside their dormitory parking lot, beside Jeni’s blue (Helen noted to not say blue or stand near anything blue or wear anything blue) Ford Mustang, in the farthest corner where no one would bother them.
           CQ said, “What if I lay down in the parking lot, my arm stretched out, and someone drives Jeni’s car over my wrist?”
           Helen said, “Have you ever seen a car tire before?”
           CQ nodded.
           Helen said, “Good. Next.”
           Robin said, “What about a bike?”
           No one said anything. Helen rolled her eyes, but allowed her to continue.
           “You have more control over the bike. Man, I dunno.”
           Kim said, “Yeah. The tire is smaller.”
           Jeni said, “For better aim to the wrist.”
           Sylvie exhaled her infamous exhale. This was going nowhere fast and Helen had things to do.
           “Look,” Helen said, “We want the break to be clean. We do not want to risk the possibility of surgery or any other serious permanent damage. The wrist is essentially a double row of small short bones, called carpals, intertwined to form a malleable hinge. Some Lovers Try Positions That They Can’t Handle.”
           “We don’t know what any of that means. We need to be serious,” Mel said.
           “It’s an acronym if you’d let me finish. And, I know this is serious. Trust me, I do not need you telling me it’s serious. Both of my parents are doctors, so I know a lot about this shit.”
           CQ said, “Shut up Mel.” Then to Helen said, “What does the acronym mean?”
           “The acronym represents, before I was so rudely interrupted and reminded about the seriousness of the situation from the girl wearing Homer Simpson slippers, the bones in order of proximal row lateral to medial and then distal row lateral to medial: Scaphoid, Lunate, Triqetrium, Pisiform, Trapezium, Trapezoid, Capitate, Hamate.”
           Everyone looked frightened, except for Sylvie, who grinned. Sylvie said to Mel, “Serious enough for you.” Mel nodded, mouthing the acronym and counting on her fingers.
           CQ said, “So you’ll do it?” Helen, without the slightest hesitation, said, “Sure.” A sly smile danced over Helen’s lips as she recalled movie night. She continued.
           “The most common fracture of the wrist is the Scaphoid Fracture, so we’ll plan for that. It can be more difficult to detect in an x-ray, but wrists are tricky anyway. A good choice though, if you’re going to break anything on purpose. At least, I think so. The Scaphoid Fracture is also more common in young adults and hopefully will not necessitate surgery or worse, ORIF.”
           “ORIF?” Sylvie said.
           “It’s exactly what we do not want to happen to our cheating friend here. Open, Reduction, Internal, Fixation. Allow me to simplify for present company. She, Would, Be, Fucked.” Helen counted on her fingers the last four words for Mel. “Basically, it’s going into the wrist and inserting metal rods and pins in hopes of reconstructing the wrist. It’s the most painful fix and can take years to heal.”
           They (CQ, the Fucking Loser Bitches, and Jeni) stared at Helen. They took a moment to whisper among themselves in a huddle. Sylvie and Helen lit cigarettes. Helen heard people shouting from across campus, drunken shouts, and she remembered she had somewhere to be.[13]
           After a moment, Jeni said, “So, does this mean I can put my car away?”
           Helen stamped out her smoke and started to roll her eyes.
           “Wait,” Helen said, “I have an idea.”

           There was no way Helen was going to seriously run her over with the car. However, the car door was perfect.
           Helen strategically placed CQ’s wrist within the confines of the car door where someone really and truly could possibly get their wrist slammed in it. The break had to be somewhat real. Keeping the arm steady was going to be the only trick. Helen and CQ reviewed several times and marked where the door was going to make contact with the wrist, it being imperative CQ didn’t flinch and or chicken out, and Helen was then going to take a running start and throw all of her weight against the door slamming the hell out of it, the impact causing the snap.
           Helen and CQ set it up, promises were made that no one would ever be mad at the other person, (not held) promises were made that they would never reveal to anyone who did what and or why it was done, (obviously not held) and promises were made that no matter what medicinal complications served as a result of the break, under no circumstances could either party be held responsible (actually held). It wasn’t necessary. After Helen pummeled herself into the car door without CQ flinching or chickening out in the slightest, her wrist snapped.
           However, CQ wasn’t crying alone from the pain. A chorus of sobs followed from the Fucking Loser Bitches and Jeni. Helen was in shock that she could pull off something so malicious without a hitch. In CQ’s eyes, Helen was a true friend, someone who would go out on a limb and who could be trusted. Someone who had put another’s worries and concerns, the thought of not being able to complete an assignment for a difficult Professor, a difficult class and a difficult major, ahead of her own, and empathized with the anxiety of a friend and wanted to do everything in her power to have that friend’s anxiety lifted. Helen Trees was Catherine Quinn’s personal hero.
           If only Helen had been able to look upon her actions as guileless friendship instead of foul play. Once she heard CQ’s wrist snap and saw the tears spring into her eyes, the gasp of the rest of the Fucking Loser Bitches and Jeni, and witnessed the scared, amazed looks on their faces, Helen knew it was her internal hatred for this person that enabled her to carry out this violent task.
           Sylvie approached Helen as Helen lit a cigarette, and she thought Sylvie might ask her to move out, that maybe Drapes was the better option, but the smirk on Sylvie’s face read Congratulations! and not Get out! She winked at Helen, her back to the Fucking Loser Bitches and Jeni, and said, taking the cigarette out of Helen’s hand and pressing it to her lips to inhale, “Next time, people will need to sign on the dotted line, a verbal agreement of No Hard Feelings will not suffice.” She exhaled and handed the cigarette back to Helen. The next day Sylvie changed her major from Social Work to Pre-law and Helen changed hers from Economics to Pre-med. Another business attempt, no doubt.
           Helen and Sylvie tried not to laugh as CQ shouted to the Fucking Loser Bitches to, “Fucking help me!” And CQ verbally annihilated Jeni for not driving her immediately to the emergency room and screaming threats about Oral Internal Fixation and whatnot. Helen felt Jeni’s eyes bore through the back of her head, wishing Jeni would’ve been a little bit nicer to the Liar after all. CQ gently eased herself into the front seat of the car, the scene of the crime, clutching her wounded paw with which Helen had provided her, and smiled at Helen, thankfully, through the windshield.
           Helen couldn’t have that on her conscience every time she faced CQ and instead of emotionally and mentally beating herself up over the incident, she decided it really was her duty to bestow pain upon the one person (CQ!) who was in charge of inflicting so much on her (Liar!). It was with relief that the break-the-wrist exception plan granted CQ an Incomplete regarding the thirty-five-page pager for Professor Fuck Wu’s class, which led to her transfer to a different school, Kent State (whose version of Go Bucks! was Can’t Read, Can’t Write, Kent State), which led to the transfer of the rest of Fucking Loser Bitches High to (yes) Can’t Read, Can’t Write, Kent State, plus the transfer of Jeni the Whore to her State of Knocked Up and Living at Home.[14]

           Helen and Sylvie remained roommates throughout their undergraduate collegiate careers. Of course, neither one of them graduated from The Ohio State University (Go Bucks!) [15], and was expelled due to a wrist break gone sour. [16] Carson Wilde (not his real last name), number 7 and star quarterback for the Buckeyes, ratted out Helen and Sylvie to his father, who happened to be the Provost of The Ohio State University (Go Bucks!), for having to undergo ORIF. [17] Carson had signed a contract with Helen and Sylvie for a Scaphoid Fracture to his right wrist. At the time, Carson didn’t realize he would need his right wrist to throw touchdown passes, though he was excused from his Calculus final. He never played football again and the Buckeyes had a losing season.

(Note: click footnote numbers to return to the story.)

[1] A buckeye is a small, shiny dark brown nut with a light tan patch that comes from the official state tree of Ohio, the buckeye tree.

[2] It should be noted that Helen’s objective was to make her father proud. Because of his successes in medicine and business, Helen wanted to prove to her father she had inherited his business mind and not her sister’s mind (page 9). Helen decided she would reinvent herself at The Ohio State University (Go Bucks!) and attempt, once again, to be an entrepreneuse (page 20).

[3] Helen actually did collect a fee from the boys of The Browning School for the escort service; the Spence girls were not aware of a fee. The Spence girls were also not aware of how much each girl was worth. A sliding scale based on beauty and sexual experience ($100 to $450) was established by Helen, but never stapled to her permanent record. Helen cleared over $14,000: the Browning boys were rich and the Spence girls were sluts.

[4] The men’s clothing fad worn and established by the girls of Ohio was confirmed by Carrie Bauer– a girl Helen met at orientation. Carrie was very forthcoming regarding the latest fashion and confessed to Helen that the girls of Ohio purchased their XXL name brand men’s clothing at stores like, Marshalls and/or TJ Maxx (bargain basement stores) because of how inexpensive and available the pieces were. Stores like Marshalls and/or TJ Maxx often get large shipments of irregular (defective garments marked by the tag cut in half and/or a dot from a permanent marker) XXL name brand men’s clothes.

[5] It should be noted a few weeks after the initial meeting with Robin Gallagher, Helen stumbled upon the questionable shorts crumpled up on Robin’s dorm room floor and the mystery solved: the tag was cut.

[6] Helen attended an all girls school her entire life. She knew many lesbians and did not have any issues with lesbians. Robin Gallagher stated was not a lesbian, but lived with a woman after she graduated from college for ten years, whom she called, “her roommate.”

[7] Melinda “Mel” Mayfield changed her name to CQ! after she graduated from college and married Tom Darby. CQ and “CQ” never spoke again. Mel, er “CQ” eventually grew her hair out and went from a perm to a body wave.

[8] Note, Helen and her father would speak to each other again. However, it would be from behind glass.

[9] Kim Whitaker married Eddie after she dropped out of college. Helen met Eddie once and noted his left eye was a lazy eye; he probably never noticed Kim’s.

[10] Initially, Helen was unable to understand why someone who dressed in drapes would wear braces; however, she figured it out – and confirmed with Drapes during a Statistics class – and the answer was quite simple: her face was the only thing exposed. It should look nice.

[11] Helen was also aware Drapes’ long heavy garment she wore was really called an Abayah or ibayah and the scarf around her head, leaving her face exposed, a Hejab or hijab. (She did go to Spence for Christ’s sake.)

[12] Case Western is not an Ivy League university. It was stated earlier that Helen’s friends only attended Ivy League universities, it should be noted that TJ Ley received his undergraduate degree from Brown University.

[13] Helen was attending a party with her new successful friends. Each aesthetically pleasing and with plans to attend an institution of even higher learning after graduation. Helen would have her choice of which one to bring to New York to introduce to her father once they began speaking.

[14] It should be noted that Jeni wasn’t carrying TJ Ley’s child.

[15] Helen finished her undergraduate degree at SUNY. Sylvie finished hers at Cleveland State. Sylvie went to Law School at New York University and practices at O’Melveny and Myers; she and Helen stayed good friends. As for Helen, that’s another story.

[16] The wrist breaking business had been successful and Helen’s father would have been proud. However, he did not tell her so when they did speak again. Helen spent a few weeks visiting (as her mother called it) her un-sister Glory at the institution. Helen’s father came once to see Helen. Helen sat behind the glass and they conversed over the phone. She informed him that Sylvie and she had cleared over $110,000 each from the wrist-breaking business, having branched out to the campuses of Miami University (of Ohio) and Ohio University. At one point in their junior year, Helen and Sylvie had a staff of twenty, mostly students in either Pre-Law/Law School or Pre-Med/Medical School.

[17] Carson was one of the two ORIF candidates over the years. In both cases, the breakee either flinched and/or chickened out.

Jennifer Ames

This piece has been nominated for The Pushcart Prize and The Best American Short Stories.