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Leopard (by Sarah Shun-lien Bynum) / Fiction
You have not slept well. Don’t open your eyes. Stick out your tongue. Search for the little sore1 above your upper lip. Pray that it healed in the night.
No luck. Still there, rough to the tongue, and though it’s very small, not even the diameter of a pencil eraser, it feels much larger. Your mother says it’s a harmless fungal infection, and she pities you less for it than she should.
A tiny hamburger is what the fungus resembles, cracked and brown and perfectly centered in the little fluted area between your septum and upper lip. Yesterday, in the cafeteria, Josh Mohorn pointed out the similarity before a table of your friends. A painful thing, considering how much you would like to be Josh Mohorn. He turned to you and said, “Hey, Yancy, do me a favor.”
“What’s up?” you said, excited by the rare pleasure of Josh’s attention.
“Could you take that seat down there?” he said, gesturing toward the far end of the table. “I can’t eat my lunch with your fucking burger in my face.”
Even you had to admire the succinct poetry of the line, which launched an instant craze of everyone jeering and calling you Burger King, or Patty, or All Beef, the name that stuck for the rest of the day and that will surely greet you...