‘Honey Bunny’ by Julianne Pachio
From The New Yorker:
She dabs the toilet paper against her nostrils, sniffing loudly. Sitting across from them is a group of three girls. They’re wearing flower-patterned dresses, glittery American Apparel leggings, long dangly earrings, brown oxfords. One girl is leaning forward with her head bowed, cradling a giant green backpack in her lap like a baby. Without staring at the girls too directly, she can tell that their eyeliner isn’t smudged, their hair is smooth and straightened, their concealer still effectively hiding any blemishes on their upper jawlines. She swallows and rubs the toilet paper against her nose even harder, letting out a cough for good measure.
“So what are your plans for today?” Tony says, reaching for an untied shoelace. Hours earlier, she’d mistaken it for a long black worm drowning in a puddle as they stood smoking outside the club entrance.
She almost says, “Watch porn and masturbate,” but instead says, “Just chilling, I guess.” Was it a thick clump, clinging to her nostril hairs? A delicate crust around the rims? Did she look like the Dormouse, abruptly waking up after falling asleep in the sugar bowl at the Mad Hatter’s tea party?
“I might cook some steak, if I go to the store.” His eyes are bloodshot, but his pale skin is clear.
“Cool,” she says, furiously digging in her nose as deep as she can. One of the girls, the one with perfectly straight bangs, is staring at her, or maybe she’s just looking vacantly at the subway map on the wall behind her.
“Maybe some chile con carne. Chili with flesh.” He laughs.
Carne means “meat,” but she doesn’t correct him. She’s about to tell him that sounds good when something thin peels away from her nostril wall.