by Bridget Callahan
- Pickles is the name of the small, stuffed dog Sarah brought to school with her every day until the end of first grade, when the Fancy Purse Club made fun of her on the playground and said she couldn’t play with them. Sarah will never forget how, embarrassed, she left Pickles lying abandoned next to the kudzu-covered fence, and when school was let out, he was gone. Secretly she believed the kudzu had kidnapped him. The next year, she brought to school a gold-sequined clutch her mother let her play dress-up with. But purses were out, and everyone was pegging their jeans, which never looked right on her because her mother never bought her the right pair of jeans. Instead, as Sarah got older and thicker, her mother bought her clothes meant for women in their thirties– polyester silk blouses and mom-waisted slacks. Polo shirts from Land’s End. Dresses from Ann Taylor, meant for job interviews, not school dances. Poor Pickles.
2. Before she went on her eighth grade tour at the high school she was promised to, Sarah’s mother took her aside and said very seriously, “High school boys will only try to sleep with you because you are overweight and they are going to think you are easy.” Later, on the tour, two older boys followed her and her guide, a tall, blonde, perky sophomore named Candice, through the hallways from class to class. Somehow they were there, outside every door. They must have known Candice’s schedule. Eventually, they cornered both of them in the stairwell and pressed Sarah up against the wall, pretending to ask her out and telling her they were gonna “get” her when class let out. But Sarah knew they didn’t mean it, because she was fat, so they were obviously just making fun of her.
3. Sarah’s friends think she is so funny, she should probably write a book or try stand-up comedy. One thing Sarah says a lot at parties is “Jesus Christ, where’s the wine?” while holding a wineglass of water, and it’s really a hoot, you know, in person. Her friends tell their homely daughters, the ones that have the misfortune to take after their aging, bull-nosed fathers, they say, “See, look at Sarah. Personality can mean a lot.” When she can’t make their birthday dinners because she’s working, they get drunk and say to each other “Must be nice to have your career just handed to you because your brother shot a dog.” When they had a book club for a few months, she suggested Lady Chatterley’s Lover and the next meeting no one made eye contact. Then Marissa had an affair with one of her husband’s aides and got caught. She knows the girls all blame her for that, but she also knows how soft Marissa’s hands were, under the blankets in their dorm room, so she doesn’t think she’s entirely to blame.
4. When Sarah first met Donald Trump, she was young and eager, working on her father’s campaign. He was already getting old, but she was used to the gentle pawing and whispered inanities of her father’s friends, and grateful that she didn’t attract as much of it as the other girls. One night, she was straightening up the office after one of her father’s famous “The South Will Rise Again” barn burners, when she found Donald passed out in the conference room. At the door, they had passed out these very nice white Klan hoods, for people who arrived without a costume. One of the guys, probably David, had draped one over Donald’s head. It was particularly unfortunate that the party’s theme was embroidered lovingly on the hood by the Senator’s wife from Georgia. Sarah took out her phone, pulled up the cloth just enough to see his face, and snapped a picture. “I might never use this,” she whispered to herself, “but I might. I might.” Then she rolled Donald on his side, so he wouldn’t choke on his own vomit, and hummed her favorite Dave Matthews song while rubbing his back.
5. When Sarah met her husband, she knew from the first he was in love with her father’s power, and her father’s name. But she didn’t care. She held this thought tight inside her abundant chest, like a magic glowing carbuncle – “Someday my father will die, and it will be my power, and my name.” What she doesn’t understand is that the very fact of this thought, held precious to her, is why her husband really loves her.
6. Sarah has invested heavily in real estate along the predicted coastline of the future Sea of Nebraska, formed when the mid-continental Kiowa fault settles and lets the Gulf pour into the center of the country. She owns the entire town of Shamrock, CO, and ten miles surrounding it. Because she has poured all of her money into acquiring land in this remote region, the Huckabee Sanders family has been living in a food truck since 2013, which has recently been moved to sit next to the Rose Garden. Every night as she tucks her children into their stacked trundle beds that very closely resemble a large chest of drawers, she whispers to them of how their grandchildren will get rich off fishing rights, shipping lines, and short-term rentals.
7. Sarah had been secretly dosing Sean Spicer for months before Scaramucci reared his stupid, grandstanding face. A drop in his morning coffee, another two in the afternoon rum and coke. When he hid in the bushes, unable to face the reflection of his own face in those thousands of cameras, plagued by visions of his own demise torn apart by a pack of wild wolves, that was her proudest moment. She’s doing it for all of us, see? For Mom, for Pickles, for Candice, for Shamrock, Colorado, though she plans on razing the whole thing in twenty years. These wicked men, who took her father from her and turned him into a loopy God-freak evangelical con-man, someone barely a shadow of his decent rational self, these wicked men must pay. They must pay with humiliation, and ridicule, with absolute dismemberment of their public images. She wants them ashamed and cowering in their mansions. And if she has to wear the Ann Taylor, and trot out the tired nursery school teacher routine just to access their food and drink, she will coo and flatter, wear the right shade of lipstick, rub his back, and look lovingly at them with a crooked smile and crooked eyebrows, (just a little bit too many nuts in her cheeks as her mom used to say), and she’ll take them down one by one. She’ll take them down, one by one, and bury their sorry dead flesh in a pit of lime in a backyard in Hope, Arkansas, where all of this fucking shit started in the first place.