Author : Andy Tu

Reach into me and fix the leak that’s dripping my youth away. The creams, the antioxidants, the buckets of ice baths—what good have they done but stall the crawl of age? My first wrinkle, curving upwards from my left brow like an evaporating tear. A crack in a pebble.

But the research clinic might save me—their new formula. It’s worked on the cats, who no longer lounge around waiting for death to whisk them away. Now they prowl around the eco-gardens, chasing mice down and hunting birds with much cunning.

I wonder what my ex would say. He was the one who used to say that I was getting older, old, old, on my birthdays, always with that schoolboy smirk on his face like he’d just spit a wad of paper at me through a straw. I should’ve told him the first time to stop. I would scream it at him now if he were here. Stop! You words are unfair, like the world. Time is a rattling machine gun, riddling you with holes until your armor shatters and all that is left if your fragile, delicate flesh.

Please sign here. Here. And here. Flip the page. There as well. And… flipping more pages, paper dry against our fingertips, right here. Right over there.

I scribble my signature over the lines, scribbles that represent who I am. When I was a child I wrote with exaggerated curves in my g’s and b’s, dotted my i’s with hearts. Now my ink scratches along the paper. Just enough to satisfy.

Are these straps really necessary? I ask.

The doctor is a man younger than I am, a dimple stapled into his left cheek. Yes, he says. You will feel an extreme discomfort as the formula enters your blood and takes effect. Your body will convulse, but please know that it’s perfectly normal. He judges me with his eyes—judges my choice to participate, judges my beauty on a scale of 1-10, inspecting the wrinkle above my eyebrow that seems to have darkened in the last few days. Are you ready?

I… I see the magazine on the counter. The cover a flawless woman striding along the beach. Her hair licking upwards with the wind, a gleam cross her eyes. Skin like a perfectly-baked dessert, cheeks a snowy spread of ice cream. A smile without a wrinkle. She’s frozen on the page, her beauty immortal.

I nod, and gulp.

He pierces the needle in, in between my fingers, pushing that translucent fluid inside. It feels like a knife with a million jagged edges, cutting through my flesh, clawing and digging past my nerves. Up my fingers and into my wrist, through my arm and into my chest, and stomach, and legs, slowly savoring the pain.