Home Fiction Anastasia White Fiction

Anastasia White Fiction


by Anastasia White

I was thirteen when my mother taped a stick of celery to my right calf. She had used the old duct tape we kept in a drawer by the sink, and circled it around my leg three times. She said that it’d “ward off unwanted objects,” like a meteor coming to crush us all. I’d heard about one on route to Earth, the whole world did, but it was too small to do any real damage. Even if it did, my world had already been crushed the moment she brought out the celery. It was cold and stiff from the refrigerator. I complained about it, but she insisted that it would warm up with the weather outside. Maybe it was from shock, but instead of ripping it from my leg like I should’ve, I stood in silence. I only had two thoughts running through my head. One, wouldn’t it spoil in a week? And two, I’ll never be able to show my face in public, like, ever. 

“Can’t you just tell her that this whole thing is ridiculous?” Yasmin, my best friend of two years, inquired.

I huffed in response.  

I had escaped through the backdoor as soon as my mother left the kitchen, through the backyards of Mr. Shepard and Miss Candy to avoid any onlookers passing by my street. When I arrived at Yasmin’s chipped-blue backdoor, I beat against it in a desperate frenzy. I felt like some kind of scared soul in need of sanctuary. My glorious savior, Yasmin, opened the door. Streams of sunlight cracked from behind her like she was some kind of goddess. Now, her knees were stuck to the hardwood floor of her bedroom as she poked and prodded at the celery stick. She inspected the subject of my demise like it was an autopsy, and I almost wished she had a scalpel to remove the duct tape from my leg.

“Did your dad say anything?”

“He hasn’t seen it yet, and he’d probably just agree with her anyways,” I whined.

Yasmin hummed in agreement. 

Despite living two houses down from each other, we had only become friends in our last year of elementary school. We used to stand at the same bus stop every dewy morning, by the wooden telephone pole that had more staples in it than the entire population of Larring. And though we stood right next to each other every morning, we were placed on different ends of the elementary spectrum. She wore blush and always had a pretty French braid. She liked One Direction and spent her time at recess standing in a circle, gossiping. Meanwhile, I had chipped orange nail polish and greasy hair. I spent my time thinking about My Little Pony, which was apparently not trendy anymore, and how I wanted to become a vampire. 

I didn’t blame her for keeping distance because that’s just how it was. After all, I was cautious too. I didn’t want to be friends with someone who didn’t like the same things I did because I felt like we couldn’t have a conversation. But I was also scared of her and her friend’s power. What if she were to spread some rumor about me? Granted, I didn’t have any friendships that could be broken because of a rumor. I just didn’t want to be the subject of gossip.

Her “friends” eventually spread rumors about her, that she held hands with Tyler, the weird kid, on the rug during reading time. I guess that once she had reached that point of utter betrayal, she realized they were all the same. They would all turn on each other eventually, and so, she became friends with me shortly after that. We made the “Code of Unbreaking,” which entailed that we would stay friends no matter the rumor. Unless one of us like, killed someone or did drugs, obviously.

“I mean, it’ll rot eventually, right?” Yasmin reasoned.

“That’s what I’m scared of!” My hands slapped against my face. 

The code we made helped us, but that’s the thing, despite deciding to unapologetically be ourselves, I began to care about what others would think. Middle school was a puddle of judgment, one I became deathly afraid of splashing in. 

 “I’ll have to parade around the halls with a gross, stinking, moldy vegetable! And once my terrible embarrassment has reached its peak, she’ll probably just try to strap a banana around my other leg!” 

“Why don’t you just take it off when you leave the house and then put it back on before you come home?” Yasmin proposed. 

She was a genius.

“That’s probably what it’s going to come to,” I whispered.

“Is your mom, like, okay? Mentally?”

“Ugh, I don’t even know anymore,” I said, and crashed down onto her bed face-first. 

Her comforter was a sky blue, but with my face pushed into it, all I could see was a black void. 

I didn’t think my mother was mentally ill, and in fact, her strange antics had been a constant in my life. My first ever Field Day in elementary school had solidified that. I had been standing in line with my classmates, whose parents had just come to watch us play dodgeball and soccer. We wore orange and yellow netted jerseys, the kind that probably hadn’t been washed in a decade and sat in the gym’s storage room all year round. My classmates’ parents gave them bottles of water and goldfish with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I remember feeling jealous at the fact that their parents had actually shown up. As far as I had been concerned, no one was coming to watch me run in circles. When my mother did appear, she was wearing a sunhat with a squash glued to the top. I didn’t think much of it because I was seven, but looking back on it now, it makes a lot of sense. She hadn’t worn anything like it since that day, but started leaving vegetables and fruit in strange places around the house shortly after. It only continued as I got older. 

When I was nine, I found six blueberries in her purse, she claimed would keep bugs away. I thought that, if anything, it’d just attract them to it. When I was eleven, I found sprigs of cilantro in between our couch cushions. She said that it would help our backs so that they wouldn’t be sore. And at thirteen, it was the celery and the end of the world. Her strange antics had been present since Field Day, but I just hadn’t expected her to go as far as to include me in whatever the hell she was doing. 

“Oh my god, Cara!” Yasmin shrieked. 

I pushed myself off her puffy comforter and whipped my head around. She held her phone in her hand, so close to her face that I could see the screen’s light shining on her. She didn’t say anything else, but her wide eyes made my stomach drop. She turned her phone towards me, and I wondered if my downfall was about to come even sooner than I had already imagined.

bigman_jackson815: do u wanna hang out at the mall today with me and Dylan? U can bring Cara if u want.

“Oh my god,” I whispered. 

Jackson “bigman_jackson815” Reed was Yasmin’s crush. More importantly, he was best friends with Dylan Kim, and he had just invited us to hang out with both of them. Dylan Kim was one of those boys most girls didn’t pay attention to. He existed somewhere in between the loud and quiet type, someone who’d rather let their friends take center stage. He had brown hair that covered much of his forehead, save for the tiny part that revealed a mole above his left eyebrow. He didn’t do any sports outside of school, but was a part of a group that liked basketball. During gym he would play with his friends, most of whom I couldn’t stand (except for Jackson sometimes) because they always caused disruptions in class. I had a huge crush on Dylan Kim, but there was a vegetable duct taped to my leg, and I was too scared to tell my mom I didn’t want to wear it.

“We have to go!” Yasmin said. 

“Who’s gonna drive us? My mom? I’d have to get out of the car with this stupid thing on my leg,” I pointed to the celery. 

“You could always just put sweatpants on, or something,” 

“Yasmin, it’s like, ninety degrees out,” 

“I’m just trying to throw ideas out here,” Yasmin said, and crossed her arms. 

“What about your parents? Are they still working on weekends?”

“You already know the answer to that.”

“Shit, what are we gonna do then?”

“We could always just take the bus to Larring Plaza and walk from there?”

Yasmin started typing a response to Jackson, but all I could feel was uncertainty brewing in my stomach. It didn’t boil like excitement or fear did. It felt like someone had dropped an anchor in my stomach, and it was weighing me down to port. My palms became moist with sweat, but my blood had run my entire body cold. I wondered how I could be both warm and cold at the same time. 

 “Cara, you good?” Yasmin asked.

“Uh, yeah, I think my stomach is acting up though,” I rubbed my belly. 

“You better not be trying to get out of this. We have to go!”

“Yeah, yeah, I know,” I whined. 

“If you’re too scared to see Dylan you can always go hang out with Harrison.”

“Ugh, Yasmin, please stop.” 

Harrison was the local homeless man. He had long, curly black hair and a graying beard, downcast eyes that seemed broken, and nine teeth. He wore a puffy, tan bomber jacket in the winter, and a thin scarlet flannel during the rest of the year. He would roll up the sleeves during spring and summer, and jest at how he was lucky it had holes in it. The two items looked like they had followed him from womb to tomb. Although he wasn’t quite at his end yet, he might as well have been. I’m sure he must have felt that way at some point. 

Yasmin told me that we’d leave in an hour. I was fine with taking the bus, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was about to get myself into something truly awful. I reached down to my calf to drag the celery stick out of the duct tape. It felt like pulling teeth. I wiggled it until it was at the right angle to disconnect. Once it was removed, I tried undoing the duct tape, but it wouldn’t budge. Yasmin walked to her oak wardrobe and pulled a drawer open. She dug inside of the drawer for about fifteen seconds until she pulled out a pair of fabric scissors. She walked towards me, the thick blade glinting, and I only felt relief when she bent down and cut the duct tape from my calf. 

“There, good as new!” she exclaimed.

“You looked terrifying,” I giggled. 

With an hour to spare until my doomsday approached, I felt the feeling in my stomach only move throughout my entire body. I sat on the edge of Yasmin’s bed while I felt my leg bounce up and down. I texted my mom that I was going to the mall with Yasmin, and that I’d be back by six. I didn’t tell her how we were getting there, mostly because she’d probably freak out if I told her we were going to Larring Plaza. She’d probably throw cherries through the bus’s window at me. 

The walk to the bus stop was short, but with the beating sun, it felt like my body was melting from the inside out. Each step felt like I was getting closer and closer to my end, even though I had covered up the duct tape and Yasmin had the celery stick in her tote bag. The feeling in my stomach became a dull throb, which turned my fingers numb. Somewhere in the haze of getting on the bus I checked my phone, to which I noticed my mother hadn’t responded to my text. I told Yasmin and she said “good luck.”

Larring Plaza wasn’t an awful place. It had its ups and downs, mostly because it happened to be a three-minute walk from the mall. The downsides of Larring Plaza involved strangers from the city, most of whom were just students or office workers trying to get a ride on public transit. I didn’t see the issue of utilizing what was available to us, especially in such a dire time. Pigeons liked to stalk the area for breadcrumbs or half eaten subs sticking out of trash cans. They liked to sit on the benches when it rained, and despite people’s best efforts, always brought new friends to spread the ruckus. 

Yasmin and I made it to Larring Plaza in one piece, and we were determined to make it to the mall in the same fashion. We strutted, not too fast, not too slow, in order to reduce the amount of sweat that would mess up our hair. Pigeons soared next to us, runners swept by, and kids ran down the sidewalk with their parents in tow. The heat was awful, but with our pace we kept a singular bead of sweat from forming on our heads. When we did arrive at the stone entrance of the mall, we passed by the alleyway.

I could see Harrison sitting on a black crate, picking at some kind of fruit in his hands. An orange. He turned his head and waved to the two of us, but we snapped our heads away and sped up towards the glass doors of the mall.  

Jackson and Dylan stood by the Auntie Ann’s pretzel stand. Dylan wore a bright orange shirt that had some spaceship on it. He wore black shorts and converse, and his hair was flat against his forehead like I had always dreamed about. My heart was thumping against my chest with each step we took. 

“Hey,” Jackson said. His voice sounded deeper, likely an attempt to impress Yasmin. 

“Hi,” she said. She was impressed. 

Dylan waved to me and smiled, to which I held up a shaky hand. 

“Do you guys wanna get something to…” Jackson was cut off.

“Tomorrow draws near! We’ll witness a rapture after its destruction!” An older man yelled.

The man held a sign which read The End of Days Is Coming: Are You Prepared? He wore an American-flag bandanna around his head. His tank top was drenched in sweat, and his green cargo pants were filled to the brim with objects in each pocket. Spit spewed from his mouth at each word. He continued his ranting about a meteor passing by that was “certain” to hit us. A security guard quickly grabbed him by his shoulder and escorted him out, which caused our group to gather in a circle and discuss what we’d just witnessed. 

“That wouldn’t happen to us though, right?” Yasmin asked.

“I dunno, my dad seemed pretty freaked out by it,” Jackson said.

“Yeah, but your dad is a wacko,” Dylan added.

“Maybe, but I mean, who’s to say he’s wrong?”

“Isn’t he a flat earther?”

“Not the point dude,” Jackson said.

Jackson and Yasmin ended up wandering away from Dylan and I. My hands had been sweating the entire time. Dylan looked at me with a smile on his face and it felt like my heart was on fire. 

“So,” he said.

“So,” I said.

“I don’t think anything will happen to us.”

“Oh.” I let out a slight chuckle. “I don’t think so either.”

“So, uh, I wanted to ask you something.”

“Yeah, what’s up?”

“Next week is the end of year basketball tournament at school, and I uh, was wondering if you’d come and watch me?” He reached his hand behind his neck and rubbed it. 

“Oh, god yes,” I rushed, “I mean, yeah, sure!” Heat filled my cheeks, and I avoided his gaze. He laughed to himself and thanked me, but I felt like I was the one who should’ve been thanking him.

What felt like a talon sank itself into my shoulder and turned me around. I came face to face with the steaming, red face of my mother. Smoke should’ve been puffing from her nostrils by the way she was heaving with pure rage. The anchor in my stomach returned, only this time, it kept on pulling me further and further down with no end in sight. 

“Where’s the celery?” she spat.

“Mom, what do you mean?” Operation: denial. 

“The celery, Cara, the celery!” she rushed, her hands sinking further into my shoulders.

“I don’t know! Look, can you please quiet down,” I pleaded.

My mother’s head whipped to where Yasmin was standing, next to Hot Topic. She stomped up to Yasmin, interrupting her from whatever conversation she had been having with Jackson. 

“Where is the celery? I know you have it, Yasmin,” she said.

Yasmin didn’t utter a word. She looked at Jackson with wide eyes before looking for me. She saw my bewildered expression and matched it equally. I didn’t know what to say. I wanted to play damage control but my mother was a ticking time bomb that had already gone off.  Yasmin swallowed her words and opened her tote bag. She reached a hand in, and of course, pulled out the cursed celery stick. My mother ripped it from her hands immediately, and strutted back to where I was standing in shock.

“I come here to find out that you’ve taken the city bus.” She pulled a roll of duct tape from her own purse. “Where any stranger could’ve kidnapped you.” She wrapped it around my leg and stuck the celery back into the duct tape. “And that you aren’t wearing what I told you to!” I struggled against her hands putting the celery back in.

“I’m thirteen, mom! I have to learn how to do things on my own. I was with Yasmin anyways,” I tried to reason. 

“I don’t care, Cara, just because you want to do things on your own doesn’t mean you can do stupid things!” 

My vision became red.

“Oh, I’m doing stupid things? What about you, huh? You’re the one who puts random vegetables in sinks and tapes a piece of celery to her daughter.” I pointed at her. “You’re the one who’s doing stupid things! I don’t question anything you do but the moment I want to be on my own, you have to go and ruin it with this stupid shit.” I seethed.

My mother stopped fiddling with the celery. I looked at Yasmin and Jackson, who’d been joined by Dylan at this point, and felt my anger wither. They all had embarrassment written on their faces. I didn’t have to look twice to know that I’d be dead at school, and that Dylan probably wouldn’t want me at the tournament anymore. I felt the corners of my eyes become wet with tears, and I looked at my mother crouched on the ground. Her eyebrows furrowed together in concern.

“Cara, honey, wait!” she called.

I ran. Hot Topic was littered with pictures of celery, children ran with ants on a log, Auntie Anne’s only sold celery, and my mother’s ramblings of what would ward off unwanted guests terrorized me. I huffed and puffed and ran backwards, forwards, anywhere that would get me out of this situation. Dylan probably thought I was a weirdo, just like I had been in elementary school, like I was destined to be the celery girl. The stupid, weird, end of world celery girl. 

I pushed through the mall’s glass doors. Eyes stared at me from every direction, at the celery on my leg. They dissected my appearance despite my best efforts to keep them at bay. I ran towards the brick wall on the left side of the opening to the mall. There was an alleyway most people avoided because it was home to a certain individual, but at this point I felt that nothing could harm me more than what had already been done. I slouched on the cement with hot tears falling into my palms. Everything was crumbling and it was because I had let it. 

“Miss?” a strained voice called.

I turned my head sharply to see Harrison, standing in his torn scarlet flannel.

“Are you alright?” He looked unsure.

“No,” I choked. 

He looked over my slumped figure. His eyes moved downwards, probably to look at the celery stick. If everyone did, why wouldn’t he? He didn’t say anything else, and instead of walking away, he sat down across from me. He leaned his back against the brick wall.

“Do you think the world is going to end?” 

“It already has,” I whined.

“Is that why you got that thing on your leg?” 

“Do you want it?” I offered.

“No, no,” he started, “make sure you keep that celery real close to ya.” He wiped his nose with his sleeve. “It’ll be gone before you know it.”

I looked at Harrison, perplexed, but his face remained stone-cold. I had no clue what he meant. If anything, it had caused more harm than good, and I wanted it far away from me. But despite my best efforts, it had returned to its place on my leg. Maybe he’d meant that it wasn’t the end of the world or that I needed to appreciate my mother. But he didn’t know me, so he didn’t know the situation. I started to wish that I had dragged Yasmin with me. Harrison stood up, and without a word, walked onto the busy sidewalk. He took one glance at me, at the celery, and headed towards Larring Plaza. 

I looked up at the sky and my hand moved towards the celery. It was warm now.


Anastasia White is an emerging writer who lives in Rumford, Rhode Island, with her dog-like cat, Bertie. She will be graduating from Salem State University in the spring with a bachelors in English. She is planning on attending graduate school in order to become a licensed mental health counselor. Other than writing about meteors crashing into the Earth, Anastasia spends her time analyzing film and playing video games. This is her first time being published. 

The Writing Disorder is a quarterly literary journal. We publish exceptional new works of fiction, poetry, nonfiction and art. We also feature interviews with writers and artists, as well as reviews.



Leave a Reply